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Victor Barrera, 65; Judge Was Expert in Settlements

August 13, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Victor T. Barrera, a former judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court and the Los Angeles County Superior Court who was so determined to resolve cases that he sometimes kept lawyers talking through the night, has died. He was 65.

Barrera died Saturday of cancer in San Pedro.

During 20 years on the bench and a few more as private mediator for Action Dispute Resolution Services, Barrera became known statewide as an expert in settlements -- a mutual agreement among all parties to resolve litigation without a trial.

"I think the time we ordered breakfast at 3 a.m. was the high-water mark," Barrera told a legal publication in 2000. "I've settled more cases after hours than the next 10 judges you can name."

Barrera was appointed to the Municipal Court in 1979 and promoted two years later to the Superior Court by Gov. Jerry Brown. Barrera presided over courtrooms downtown and in Norwalk and for 13 years in Long Beach, where he was named judge of the year in 1995 by the Long Beach Bar Assn.

Born in Silver City, N.M., Barrera moved to Los Angeles with his family at age 9 and earned a bachelor's degree in English and a law degree at USC.

Barrera became a leader in the Southern California Latino community, beginning with three years in the late 1960s as supervising attorney of the Legal Aid Foundation of Long Beach. He helped establish the San Pedro-Wilmington Skills Center and a Wilmington recreation field.

Barrera spent a decade working for then-Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger, initially in community relations with Latinos and later prosecuting felony cases. Barrera also had a weekly 15-minute television program for two years on Spanish-language KMEX-TV Channel 34.

Barrera is survived by his wife, Sharon; sons Mark and Joseph; daughters Brooke Cornwell and Shelly Olympius; brothers Arnold and Richard; a sister, Blanca Romero, and three granddaughters.

Memorial services are scheduled for today at 10:30 a.m. at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society.

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