Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, October 28, 2019


Page 1


Retired Los Angeles Judge Lester E. Olson Dies

Was Plaintiff in Olson v. Cory


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lester E. Olson—remembered for persuading the California Supreme Court in Olson v. Cory that legislation purporting to cap cost-of-living increases on judicial salaries was an unconstitutional impairment of vested rights—has died at the age of 94.

A two-time appointee of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Sr., Olson served on the Los Angeles Municipal Court from 1965-66 and on the Superior Court bench from 1966 until his retirement in 1985.

He was admitted to the State Bar in 1954 and was in private practice until he received his judicial appointment. From 1959-64, he was in partnership with Christian Markey, who was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1974 (and is also deceased).

His law degree was from Stanford.

Baron Comments

Retired Court of Appeal Justice Elizabeth Baron remarked on Friday:

“His death is heartbreaking. He was the sweetest, kindest, funniest of my friends.

“He was a warrior on behalf of judges and loved our profession to the heights and depths of his soul. He will be greatly missed by all of his friends, like me, who adored him.”

She noted that he died in his sleep Tuesday night.

Reflection by Stewart

 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Stewart recounted a jury trial before Olson in the 1970s, saying:

“It lasted six weeks and featured colorful counsel Richard Voorhies and Norman Ollestad, both now deceased. Judge Olson kept control of a multi-faceted case (three defendants in two consolidate cases) with his knowledge of the law and a firm hand in the courtroom.

“He kept the case moving with prompt and fair rulings and was largely upheld in Campbell v Southern Pacific (1978) 22 Cal.3d 51.”

Olson v. Cory I was decided in 1980. In 1983, Olson v. Cory II was handed down in which the high court determined that judges and judicial pensioners were entitled to interest on the salary and pension boosts to which they were entitled under Olson I.

Olson is survived by, Patrick M. Anderson, with whom he shared a home in Fallbrook, located in San Diego County.


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