Thursday, December 13, 2001
Retired Long Beach Judge G. William Dunn Dies
By a MetNews Staff Writer
George William Dunn, a retired judge of the Long Beach Municipal Court who served much of his career on assignment to the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Second District Court of Appeal, has died.
He was 71.
Dunn died Tuesday at a rest home several months after a crippling stroke, his brother, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn, said.
“He had been ill and hospitalized off and on for about four or five months now,” Reginald Dunn said. “He slowly slipped into a state where he could not respond.”
George William Dunn, known by friends and associates as Bill, was a Harlem native who at first attended college sporadically, interrupting his education in order to earn enough money to return to school. He worked as a bellhop at the Greenbriar Hotel in West Virginia and as a porter on the Soo Line railroad before graduating from Ohio State University in 1956 with a degree in physical education.
Dunn later earned a master’s degree in French history and began work on a Ph.D.
But in 1959 he decided instead to move to Los Angeles, where he began a decade-long career as a teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
While teaching, he earned his law degree from USC and began working for the Long Beach Legal Aid Foundation. He later formed two Long Beach law firms—Wilson & Dunn, where he worked from 1967 to 1975, and Dunn & Goldstein, where he worked until his election in 1978 to an open seat on the Long Beach Municipal Court.
Dunn served as presiding judge of that court in 1980.
He primarily handled a criminal calendar for the first decade of his bench career, until the District Attorney’s Office took exception to a ruling and issued a blanket affidavit, in effect ousting him from any assignment that required him to hear felony matters.
Dunn was reassigned to civil cases, and began a long tenure in the same courthouse sitting in assignment as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Lawyers hailed him for his mastery of the courtroom and his integrity, and he was called on numerous times to serve in this district’s Court of Appeal.
Much of that time was spent on Div. One. That division’ presiding justice, Vaino Spencer, noted that Dunn was serving on the court when she arrived there in 1980 and that he authored a vigorous dissent in a ruling rejecting a bid by ex-Black Panther Geronimo Pratt for a new trial.
“His view of the state of the evidence essentially was vindicated” by the Court of Appeal in 1999, Spencer said.
“On several occasions over the next 18 years, he served as a pro tem in Div. One, his terms ranging from as little as three months to approximately one year,” Spencer noted. “He was a pleasant and kind individual to everyone, very collegial, and we had a great deal of affection for him as he did for us. We deeply regret losing such a wonderful person.”
Dunn is survived by his wife, Kirsten Dunn, four children and two grandchildren, as well as by his brother.
Reginald Dunn said that because of the holidays the family likely will have a private ceremony, and then consider a public memorial service after the holiday season is over.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company