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John R. Lewis

John R. Lewis in 1983

Former Professor, Judge Remembered

November 2, 2012

Tags: 2012, News

John R. Lewis, a former member of the McGeorge faculty and judge of the Sacramento Municipal and Superior courts, died at the age of 77 on Nov. 2, 2012, in Port Ludlow, Washington.

Lewis was a member of the full-time McGeorge faculty from 1971 to 1983, then an adjunct professor for three more years after his appointment to the Municipal Court by Governor Jerry Brown. Lewis taught several substantive courses at McGeorge, including Civil Procedure. He was also the first associate director of the Center for Legal Advocacy (the Courtroom of the Future, completed in 1973).

"John found in the law a meaning, a depth, and a beauty that made him admired by judges, lawyers and students alike," said Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Lewis worked for when he was in private practice at Evans, Jackson & Kennedy in the 1960s. "He was a loyal colleague and a wonderful addition to the strong faculty that Dean Schaber put together at McGeorge."

After beginning his career in private practice with two major Sacramento law firms, Lewis served for 18 years on the local bench retiring in January 2000. He presided over one of the Superior Court civil law and motion departments for his final years as a jurist.

Lewis was a popular figure with alumni. He volunteered his time as a speaker at the annual Pacific McGeorge Alumni Association MCLE in that event's formative years, and he enjoyed talking with his former students. He also appreciated interaction with current students, serving at least once a year as a judge in the Trial Advocacy course one-day mock trials.

Lewis and his wife of 54 years, Leanne, moved to Washington's Olympic Peninsula shortly after his retirement in 2000 because of her respiratory problems with Sacramento's climate.

One of closest friends of the Lewis family was Justice George Nicholson of the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District.

"John was my mentor judge when I was appointed to the Municipal Court in 1987," Nicholson said "We quickly became close friends. He was a quiet man and a very able, conscientious, and thoughtful jurist. He was meticulous in all he did, off the bench and on, as I found out in great detail while reviewing his fine decisions and opinions in civil law and motion which he did during his final five years on the Sacramento trial bench. Every lawyer and litigant who appeared before him was treated with courtesy and respect."