Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 17, 2014


Page 3


Senior U.S. District Judge J. Spencer Letts Dies at 79


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Senior U.S. District Judge J. Spencer Letts of the Central District of California has died at 79.

The court said Friday that Letts, a judge since 1985, died Nov. 10. A memorial service is planned for January, the court said.

The St. Louis, Mo. native graduated from Yale University in 1956 and Harvard Law School in 1960. He was in private practice in Houston, Texas from 1960 to 1966.

Letts was vice president and general counsel for Teledyne, Inc. in Los Angeles from 1966 to 1973, and again from 1975 to 1978. He was in private practice in Los Angeles from 1973 to 1975, and from 1978 to 1985.

He also served as a captain in the United States Army Reserve from 1956 to 1965.

Letts was nominated to the federal district court by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 7, 1985, and received his commission on Dec. 17 of that year. He maintained chambers in the United States Courthouse on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, and took senior status on Dec. 19, 2000, which was his 66th birthday.

Chief Judge George H. King said in a statement:

“Judge Letts was a true gentleman and a wonderful colleague. He treated everyone with dignity and respect, and took a keen interest in restoring defendants in criminal cases to productive and law-abiding lives within the community. He presided with a sharp mind and a compassionate heart. We will all miss him very much.”

The flags outside the courthouses of the district were lowered to half-mast in the judge’s memory, District Court Executive/Clerk Terry Nafisi said.


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