Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, March 15, 2013


Page 3


Superior Court Judge Dewey L. Falcone to Retire


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dewey L. Falcone has notified colleagues and others that he plans to retire.

Falcone, 81, sent out an email earlier this week. He said he was writing from the intensive care unit at Torrance Memorial Hospital, where he was being treated for coronary problems.

“First I thank you for the encouraging thoughts and wishes, they helped a great deal,” he wrote. “It is with great reluctance that I write you never see it coming but knowing it is out there.  The ‘reluctance’” part is in accepting the inevitable of closing a huge phase of your life.  Retirement.”

The judge, who sits in Norwalk and will complete his 20th year of service next week, said he had “been blessed with being in the best court house with the best people for the past 20 years,” and that he has plans “to retire with a great party to celebrate our great years together.”

The Hermosa Beach native was appointed to the court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1993. He graduated from the Bay Area’s Menlo College in 1951, from the University of Santa Clara in 1953, and from USC’s law school in 1956.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1959, then practiced civil law in Los Angeles for the next 34 years with his father, A.V. Falcone.

The elder Falcone practiced for 65 years before his death in 1996 at age 89. The judge’s stepmother, Mildred Lillie, was the longest-serving judge in California history.

She capped a 55-year career by serving as presiding justice of this district’s Court of Appeal, Div. Seven, a post she held at the time of her death in 2002 at the age of 87.

Dewey Falcone’s practice was largely in the fields of family law and real estate and construction law. As a judge, he initially handled criminal cases.

He was assigned a number of high-profile cases, including that of accused killer Aldo Hernandez. The case became legally complicated because the defendant pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, and the jury found Hernandez insane as to the murder charge and two other charges but could not reach a verdict as to whether he was sane when he committed two other offenses, attempted murder and evading police.

After a second jury was unable to reach a verdict as to whether Hernandez was sane at the time of those offenses, Falcone—noting that California law places the burden of proving insanity on the defendant—directed a verdict that the defendant was sane when the crimes were committed.

The Court of Appeal affirmed, but the Supreme Court held in People v. Hernandez (2000) 22 Cal.4th 512 that the judge did not have authority to terminate the sanity proceedings in the prosecution’s favor.

After five years of handling criminal cases, Falcone moved to the civil side, serving as assistant supervising judge, and later supervising judge, of the Southeast District.


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