MARTINEZ (KCBS)— One of California’s longest serving judges stepped down for good Friday in Martinez. Applause erupted from the street as Superior Court Judge Richard Arnason walked out of the old county courthouse.
Some 200 people—judges, clerks, attorneys and bailiffs showed up to honor the 90-year-old “Iron Man”, as he was called for his work ethic, and give him a warm send off.
Thirty deputies lined the crosswalk to give the judge, first appointed to the bench in 1963, a clear path to cross the street.
KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson was there for the farewell.
“Judge Arnason has just been an absolutely excellent judge. He’s one of the hardest working, if not the hardest working judge we’ve ever had here. It’s sad to see him go,” he said.
Judge Arnason who officially retired in 1995 continued to work in the courts. He would often arrive at work by 6 a.m.
Sheriff’s Deputy Wes Coy served as a bailiff in Arnason’s courtroom for several years.
“Many judges want an announcement in the morning, ‘all rise’. I asked him how he wanted to do that,” Coy explained.
Arnason said he would say, remain seated and come to order.
Superior Court Judge John Kennedy said his mentor and friend treated defendants with compassion and respect.
“Even when he had to impose heavy sentences they would often thank him at the end of it because they could feel that he really was thinking about it and thinking of them as people,” Kennedy said.
Judge Arnason presided over the trials of the San Quentin Six and Angela Davis and several death penalty cases.
He said very little upon his departure before tear drops filled his eyes as he was given a personal police escort home.
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