Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Retired Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner Joseph Ruffner Dies at Age 71
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Longtime Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner Joseph Ruffner has died.
Retired for nine years, Ruffner passed away on July 4 in a Reno, Nev., hospital, where he was recovering from a motorcycle accident, Washoe County coroner’s officials said.
He was 71.
Services were held July 9, Los Angeles Superior Court officials said.
Ruffner was riding his motorcycle on Interstate 80 in rural Pershing County in northern Nevada on the morning of June 27 when he struck a deer, according to coroner’s reports. He died of a pulmonary embolus, an arterial blockage.
Ruffner served most of his court career in Van Nuys. Superior Court Judge John Gunn, who served as a commissioner with him, said he was “universally liked.”
“He was a good judge,” Gunn said. “A fair judge. I think very highly of him, never heard anything critical of him. I considered him a good friend.”
Born in Greensburg, Pa., Ruffner grew up in Los Angeles. He served for 14 months in Korea as a staff sergeant with the Army, then enrolled at the University of Southern California. He received his undergraduate degree in business in 1956 and his law degree from USC’s School of Law in 1959.
After his admission to the Bar in 1960, he spent 12 years in private practice, specializing in general civil litigation, until he was hired by the Los Angeles Municipal Court judges in 1972.
He became a member of the State Bar in 1960, conducted a solo practice for two years, and then formed the Los Angeles law firm of Weinstein, Saltz & Ruffner, where he worked for a decade, specializing in general civil lititgation.
Ruffner was hired by the Municipal Court as a traffic referee in may 1972, and he soon became a commissioner. He twice ran unsuccessfully for a judgeship.
He retired in 1992 as the court’s senior-most commissioner.
He was a resident of Rancho Mirage.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company