Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Page 1


Superior Court Judge James R. Dunn, 86, Dies


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Dunn, 86, has died from complications of a stroke, Presiding Judge Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner announced yesterday.

The jurist succumbed on Friday.

Dunn was appointed to the Superior Court on Oct. 10, 1995 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. He was, at the time, a partner in Bryan Cave which he had joined in 1984.

He served first as a judge in a criminal department, switching to the civil side in 1990. His most recent assignment was at the Spring Street Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, handling ing mandatory settlement conferences (“MSCs”).

Stanford Law Degree

His law degree was conferred by Stanford in 1962. From 1965-67, Dunn was a civil rights enforcement attorney with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the District of Columbia; served as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney from 1967-69; in 1969 formed the firm of Pines & Dunn with Burt Pines, who was to become Los Angeles city attorney and later a Los Angeles Superior Court judge; and was a federal public defender from 1976-84.

Jessner said yesterday:

“He was a brilliant judge and a beloved friend to many.”

She quoted him as once having said:

 “In this job, you cannot be obnoxious about it. And this could be a little bit tricky: I think you have to be able to smile once in a while and use a little humor especially if you are giving bad news.”

Sense of Humor

The presiding judge remarked:

“If you knew Jim, you were familiar with his sharp, insightful, and clever sense of humor. I spoke with him shortly before he suffered a stroke in the fall. He reached out to me to express his concerns and opinions regarding who I was considering for the MSC vacancies. He approached the conversation with humility and a recognition of the diligence and discipline necessary to succeed in the assignment. During our conversation, he shared deep insight, warmth, and exhibited his keen sense of humor.”

She quoted an unnamed colleague as saying:

“Jim Dunn obviously loved what he did. His chambers and mine share a common wall, and I had a good idea when he was on the job. When I arrived in the early a.m., Jim was already working the phones and the computer, talking to counsel about settlement. So, too, during the lunch hour, and when I left court late in the afternoon, he was still at it. I was amazed by his stamina. Once in a while I was lucky enough to walk out to the garage with him. He was always upbeat, in good humor and looking forward to coming in the next morning.”


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