His colleagues remembered Judge Dave Bach Jr. for his quick wit and his one-liners, as they mourned his passing this week.
Bach, 57, died Monday after a four-month bout with cancer. He would have celebrated his 20th year on the bench of North Municipal Court in Fullerton in December.
He received a kidney transplant from a 4-year-old donor last summer, but it was unknown if his death was related to that operation.
Bach, whose courtroom often erupted into laughter from jokes, said: "There is a method to my madness. Most of the people who come in here, it's their only contact with the system, and I represent the system to them. I want them to feel good about the system. I want them to know it's really not all that bad."
And there was another reason, he said.
"Judges are only human. . . . I see so much tragedy, it helps if I can have a little fun in some of the less serious cases."