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Bonnie Lee Martin, 74; Judge in L.A.'s Municipal and Superior Courts for More Than 2 Decades

April 09, 2005|From a Times Staff Writer

Judge Bonnie Lee Martin, who served in the Municipal Court and Superior Court in Los Angeles for more than 20 years until she retired in 1990, died Thursday. She was 74.

Martin, who had pancreatic cancer, died at her home in Los Angeles.

Born June 24, 1930, in Salt Lake City, Martin graduated from the University of Utah in 1951 and, three years later, from UCLA School of Law, where she was one of only two women in her class. She also earned a master's in law at USC.

After an early career in private law and at the state attorney general's office, Martin was appointed to the Municipal Court by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1968. Gov. Jerry Brown elevated her to the Superior Court in 1975.

Some of the notable cases she heard involved Def Row Records, billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian and landfill owner BKK Corp. She also presided over the MGM vs. Credit Lyonnais and Texaco vs. Exxon litigation.

Martin received the Chief Justice Roger Traynor Award for Judicial Excellence from the Trial Lawyers Assn. in 1989, and in 1986 was the first woman selected as outstanding trial judge of the year by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.

"My approach was that if you did it well, acceptance was a natural consequence," Martin told The Times upon receiving the bar's award. "There is an objective reality about the options open to you, but there is also a lot of subjectivity about how you see yourself."

She was president of the Women Lawyers' Club, chairwoman of the Committee on California Jury Instructions and a member of the Judicial Council. For the last 14 years she had been a partner at Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services in Los Angeles.

Martin is survived by her husband, attorney Arthur L. Martin; a daughter, Erica, also an attorney; a grandson; and three siblings.

A memorial is planned for Monday at 5 p.m. at Les Freres Taix restaurant, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

Instead of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Norris Cancer Center at USC.

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