UCLA’s law school is reporting that former Supreme Court Justice John Arguelles died on April 10 at age 94. Arguelles, the court’s second Latino justice, served for two years, starting in 1987.
Arguelles was appointed to the Municipal Court by Governor Pat Brown, to the Superior Court by Governor Ronald Reagan, and by Governor George Deukmejian to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court. He and two others were elevated to the high court to replace the three justices who were ousted by the voters at the 1986 retention election. He was the only Democrat of the three appointees.
When he was appointed to the Supreme Court, the Los Angeles Times said he was “widely regarded as a judicial conservative who tries to strictly conform to legal precedents, rather than blaze new trails that might better suit his personal beliefs.”
He led a commission on the language needs of non-English speaking persons in the California legal system. Arguelles also was vice-chair of the famous Christopher Commission that examined the Los Angeles Police Department after the Rodney King beating. He and Commission chair Warren Christopher were reportedly “struck to learn how clearly race and economic standing govern the way certain officers treat civilians.”
[April 27 update: a Daily Journal obituary by Wisdom Howell is here.]