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F. Ray Bennett; Former Superior Court Judge, Two-Term Assemblyman

Obituaries

January 21, 1999|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

F. Ray Bennett, veteran Los Angeles judge and two-term state assemblyman, has died at age 88.

Bennett died Friday in Glendale of heart failure.

The jurist spent nearly four decades on the benches of Los Angeles Municipal Court and Los Angeles County Superior Court after serving four years as an assemblyman from the 51st District on the Eastside.

Among the trials over which he presided were those involving asbestos and a property dispute between the estate of the late City Councilman Gilbert Lindsay and the politician's former girlfriend.

Born in Salt Lake City, Bennett moved to Los Angeles as a child and earned degrees from UCLA and UC's Boalt Hall School of Law. He was the first UCLA graduate to become a judge and in 1949 organized and served as the first president of the UCLA Alumni Law Assn.

He was president of the Taxpayers Adjustment Assn. and as a post-Depression legislator introduced and shepherded legislation that saved many homes from tax foreclosure. In the Assembly, Bennett was also Democratic floor leader.

In 1941, he moved a few blocks to live inside Los Angeles city limits so he would be eligible for a local judicial appointment. Gov. Culbert L. Olson named him to the Municipal Court on Oct. 20, 1941.

Bennett, who served on that court for 18 years, was elected its presiding judge in 1949 when the court had 40 judges. He was also elected president of the countywide Municipal Court Judges Assn.

On Jan. 16, 1959, Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr. elevated Bennett to the Superior Court, where he served until 1973 and again from 1991 until last year. Known for his expertise in settling cases without trial, he spearheaded the establishment of the court's first organized settlement program.

From his first retirement from the bench in 1973 until his return in 1991, Bennett practiced law with civil lawyer David M. Harney.

Bennett is survived by his second wife, Lynne; son, Frederick; daughter, Susan Cambigue Tracey; brother, Elwyn; and five grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. in Hillside Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.

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