Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Retired Newhall Municipal Court Judge H. Keith Byram Dies at 77
By a MetNews Staff Writer
H. Keith Byram, who served for 23 years as a Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner and Newhall Municipal Court judge, has died at age 77.
Byram, who died Sunday, retired from the Newhall court in 1997. He was elected in 1982 and re-elected without opposition in 1988 and 1994.
He became a commissioner in 1974 after six years in private practice. Before earning his law degree in 1966 at Southwestern University School of Law, Byram was a Sacramento police officer and detective for 12 years, an agent with the State Narcotics Bureau, and a supervising special agent for the State Criminal Identification and Investigation Bureau in Los Angeles.
Byram was the Newhall court’s presiding judge in 1988 and again in 1994, when the court’s operations were severely disrupted by the Northridge earthquake, which seriously damaged the courthouse. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas White, who was a judge pro tem with the court at the time of the earthquake, said yesterday Byram “did a phenomenal job” of supervising the court’s recovery.
“I have never known anybody who has enjoyed being a judge as much as Keith,” White commented. “He loved the interaction with people.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Dennis Mulcahy, who practiced before him as a criminal defense attorney in Santa Clarita, recalled Byram as “just a terrific man.”
Byram was “a good judge, and fair to everybody,” the commissioner said.
According to a report in yesterday’s Santa Clarita, Calif., Signal, Byram’s widow, Virginia Byram, said the judge died from congestive heart failure at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia after being rushed there early Sunday morning.
He is also survived by a daughter, a son, a stepson, and three grandchildren. No services have been announced.
The 1982 election in which Byram won his seat on the Newhall court was hotly contested. Byram finished second in a field of six, barely behind attorney Dan Hon.
The other four candidates threw their support to Byram, who received nearly 60 percent of the votes in the runoff election.
The Signal quoted Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alan Rosenfield, who served with Byram on the Newhall court, as calling him “an icon from the old school...who cut through the form to get to the substance.”
The newspaper reported that Rosenfield added:
“He had a knack for the business. He understood people and he understood their problems.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company