Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 16, 2013


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Retired Superior Court Judge Dewey L. Falcone Dies at 82


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dewey L. Falcone died yesterday at the age of 82.

Assistant Presiding Judge Carolyn Kuhl informed judges by email yesterday that their former colleague, who retired this past May 8, had died at his home.

 “He will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him and valued his friendship,” Kuhl wrote.  She said the court would provide more details once they are received from the family.

Falcone had informed colleagues of his impending retirement this past March in an email sent from the intensive care unit at Torrance Memorial Hospital, where he was being treated for coronary problems.

The jurist, who sat in Norwalk, said at the time that he had “been blessed with being in the best court house with the best people for the past 20 years.”

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, being assigned at one point to a clerical position in the Judge Advocate General office. He once explained to a reporter that the assignment was made in order to create a conflict of interest that would prevent him from continuing to represent service members who did not trust JAG lawyers.

After the service, he practiced civil law in Los Angeles for 34 years with his father, A.V. Falcone.

The elder Falcone practiced for 65 years before his death in 1996 at age 89. Dewey Falcone’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.

Another high-profile criminal case he handled was that of Michael Lucas Martinez,  Florence Noriega,  and Jose Alfredo Ibarra, convicted of murdering 17-year-old Chad McDonald, who worked for the Brea Police Department as a drug informant. The slayers were sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, and the case led to the passage of “Chad’s Law,” which requires judicial approval before a minor may work as a police informant.

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.

He later said in an interview that he “hated” being an administrator, and was grateful to be reassigned to a trial court.


Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company