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OBITUARIES : Joseph Lodge, 1932 - 2008

Among California's longest-serving judges

May 11, 2008|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Joseph lodge, a Superior Court judge in Santa Barbara County who was elected to the bench in 1958 and became one of the longest-serving jurists in California history, died Monday at his home in Santa Barbara. He was 76.

The cause of death was complications from lymphoma, his wife, Sheila, said.

Lodge, who taught at UC Santa Barbara throughout most of his law career, was known for his liberal judgments and his sometimes unconventional manner. He was a judge until recent months.

His most publicized case, in June 1970, involved more than 300 people who were arrested during a demonstration in Santa Barbara's Perfect Park. The crowd was protesting police conduct during earlier demonstrations at which rock-throwing and fire-bombing resulted in mass arrests.

Some of those arrested in the Perfect Park demonstration were tear-gassed. Some were jailed without being allowed to post bail.

In court, Lodge dismissed the case "in the interest of justice," he said, adding, "most of the protesters have already been punished enough."

Lodge's manner in court was conventional with a few exceptions. For a brief period in 1981, he would lie on the floor -- or walk around the room -- during court proceedings in an attempt to relieve back pain. He assured witnesses and lawyers that he was paying attention.

From then on, Lodge heard about the back problems of everyone who appeared before him in court, Lodge told the Associated Press in 1981.

Lodge was born Feb. 21, 1932, in St. Paul, Minn. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he majored in philosophy, and earned a law degree from the school in 1955.

The next year, he moved to Goleta, near Santa Barbara, and was elected to the Goleta/Hope Ranch Justice Court in 1958 after campaigning door to door. He was 26.

In 1959, Lodge started teaching part time at UC Santa Barbara and was best known for his course on criminal justice. He took his students to court, showed them the judge's chamber and let them sit in the jury box during informal court procedures.

His first marriage ended in divorce. His second wife, Sheila, whom he married in 1961, served three terms as mayor of Santa Barbara.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Aaron, from his first marriage; daughters Amy, Helen and Rachel; and a stepdaughter, Anne Nadler.

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mary.rourke@latimes.com

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