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Mary Goode Rogan, 91; she was a judge when most jurists were men

March 01, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Mary Goode Rogan, a judge who was appointed to the Municipal Court and Superior Court in Los Angeles County when women jurists were still a rarity, died Sunday of pneumonia at her Laguna Beach home, her family announced. She was 91.

Only five other women were Los Angeles County Superior Court judges in 1975, the year Rogan was elevated to the bench by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. More than 95% of the judges were men compared with about 70% today, according to Superior Court records.

Rogan had already spent a decade handling civil and criminal cases as a Municipal Court judge in Burbank.

She was appointed in 1965 by Brown's father, then-Gov. Pat Brown.

She heard mainly criminal cases in Superior Court in Pasadena before retiring around 1990. The work challenged her to "really know the law of the case," Rogan said in a 1998 oral history.

She was born in 1915 in New Haven, Conn., the daughter of Patrick James and Mary Ellen Goode. Her father, the town's postmaster general, also founded an early New England television station.

After receiving a bachelor's degree from Albert Magnus College in New Haven, she was one of four women to graduate from Yale Law School in 1938.

In law school, she met her husband, Richard R. Rogan, who was chief deputy attorney general from 1959 to 1963 under then-state Atty. Gen. Stanley Mosk.

Newly married in 1942, she worked for the Treasury Department in Washington while her husband served in World War II. In 1946, they moved to Burbank, where his parents lived, and later opened a law practice together.

The mother of six attributed her ability to juggle a career and parenthood to "a lot of sheer luck," according to the oral history.

But in a 1965 Times' story she shared a practical tip: "Home was never more than five minutes away from the office and the help we sought ... was the sort who would let the kitchen floor go unmopped if a child required attention."

Lured by their roots, the Rogans often vacationed in Ireland. With a friend, they bought an Irish castle once owned by director John Huston and later sold it to entertainment mogul Merv Griffin.

In addition to her children, Rogan is survived by seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1996.

Instead of flowers, the family requests donations to the Constitutional Rights Foundation,, or Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles,

Services will be held at noon today at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 1042 Temple Terrace, Laguna Beach.

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