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Category: law

One year ago: Hugh R. Manes

Manes-afterword Hugh R. Manes, who looked like Winston Churchill and could fill a courtroom with his baritone voice, was a trailblazer in the fight against police abuse. He tried more than 400 cases in his 40-year career as a civil rights lawyer in Southern California. One year ago today, he died after a long battle with emphysema. He was 84.

Manes (pronounced MAY-ness) began representing victims of police misconduct in the 1960s, nearly three decades before the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney G. King by Los Angeles police officers threw a harsh spotlight on the issue of police brutality.

His most prolific case was in defense of a group of Samoan Americans beaten by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies at a bridal shower in Cerritos in 1989. The $23-million award he won for 35 plaintiffs was believed to be the largest then imposed on a U.S. police agency.

"He was a voice in the wind," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who called Manes the dean of police-abuse lawyers. "Doing police-abuse cases is not fashionable now and was even less fashionable then. Hugh did as much as any citizen to keep the Los Angeles Police Department in check."

Read the Hugh R. Manes obituary published in The Times on June 18, 2009.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Hugh R. Manes

Credit: Nikol Manes

Services announced for entertainment lawyer Peter Lopez

A funeral for entertainment lawyer Peter Lopez will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, his family announced.

Lopez, 60, was found dead Friday of a gunshot wound outside his home in Encino. Coroner's officials were investigating the death as a possible suicide.

Lopez was a founding partner of Kleinberg Lopez Lange Cuddy and Klein, and over the years represented such artists as Michael Jackson, the Eagles and Julio Iglesias. He had bachelor's and law degrees from UCLA and was a member of the California State Athletic Commission.

Survivors include his wife, actress Catherine Bach; their daughters, Sophia and Laura; a son from a previous marriage, Michael; a brother, Arthur; and his parents, Eleanor and Arturo.

-- Claire Noland

Memories of bodyguards and Al Capone

Trevor Jensen of the Chicago Tribune writes about the life of George E.Q. Johnson Jr., whose father was the lead federal prosecutor in Chicago in the 1931 conviction of Al Capone.

Johnson's wife, Mary Ann, recalled of her husband's youth: "He'd had a bodyguard throughout the entire time. Even going out on dates, he had a bodyguard."

You can find the story here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Al Capone at a football game in Chicago in 1931. Credit: Associated Press

Marc Christian, Rock Hudson’s ex: an update

Marc2 Since Thanksgiving eve, when I first blogged about the mysterious fate of Marc Christian, Rock Hudson's ex-lover, more than three dozen of you have e-mailed me or posted a comment offering opinions, clues and anecdotes. I have learned something from each of you. And, thanks in part to the astute Internet hounds who read Afterword, I can now write the end of this story.

Marc Christian is dead. I have verified his death with his sister, Susan Dahl. I'm writing the obit, which you can read in tomorrow's paper or online later today at

Nailing this one down has been, in the opinion of some of you out there, a fool's errand. Others commended me for my efforts ("Bravo! We never knew that obit writers were such sleuths," Terry Bork of Pasadena wrote) or simply wanted to share a reaction. "For whatever reason, the Marc Christian piece held my interest, made me laugh and made me cringe. What more could you ask?" a reader in Louisville, Ky., said in an e-mail yesterday.

Rock Many others joined the chase, supplying me with birth and death databases, high school reunion websites, property records, and lots of entertaining and unprintable anecdotes about brief encounters with Christian. I'm still getting e-mail, most recently an hour ago from a reader who says that now, after just discovering my first blog item, he feels a "nagging curiosity" about Christian's fate.

I'm glad to put an end to the suffering. But I also hope this account has shed some light on the trials and perils of daily journalism. I'll be posting more soon on the wiggly path of clues that finally ended today in a very gracious phone call from Christian's sister.

--Elaine Woo

Top photo: Marc Christian in 1989. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Rock Hudson in 1984. Credit: Los Angeles Times

John J. O'Connor III received a lot more than a 'Howdy, son' from his future father-in-law

Connor2When Sandra Day O’Connor introduced her future husband to her father in the early 1950s, the result was a family story for the ages.

Her father, Arizona rancher Harry Day, was busy branding and castrating cattle when Sandra showed up with her fellow Stanford law student and fiance, John J. O’Connor III.

After spotting the couple, her father “reached into a dirty-looking bucket and pulled out a couple of bloody testicles,” the future U.S. Supreme Court justice wrote in her memoir. Her father pierced them with bailing wire and “placed them in the branding fire, where the ‘mountain oysters,’ as we called them, sizzled and cooked.”

Eventually, his future father-in-law offered the delicacy to John, the city boy from San Francisco.

John gulped and popped an oyster in his mouth.

“Umm, pretty good,” he said without flinching.

John O’Connor died Wednesday at 79. To read his obituary, click here.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: John O'Connor holds two family Bibles in 1981 as his wife, Sandra Day O'Connor, is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Credit: Associated Press / Michael Evans

The man behind Sandra Day O'Connor


John J. O'Connor, husband of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, died at age 79 today of complications arising from Alzheimer's disease, the court said in a statement.

John O'Connor, a lawyer who practiced at firms in Phoenix and Washington, had been suffering from the disease for years. His deteriorating condition was the primary reason for Sandra Day O'Connor's 2006 retirement from the court.

O'Connor is survived by his wife, three sons and six grandchildren.

-- Bloomberg

Update: Click here for the obituary written by Valerie J. Nelson.

Photo: Sandra Day O'Connor with her husband, John J. O'Connor, in 1998. Credit: Karin Cooper / Getty Images

Barbara J. Miller and the UC Berkeley tree debate

New tree The death of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller sent reporters to the files for details on her most high-profile case, UC Berkeley's effort to build an athletic facility on the site of an old oak grove.

The project was part of a plan to renovate UC Berkeley's football stadium, which has an earthquake fault running underneath it. There were community concerns about traffic, environmental and seismic issues, but the plan to cut down the oak grove next to the stadium to build the athletic facility turned into a standoff with tree-sitters that became an international story.

Thomas Bonk wrote about the issue for The Times in 2007, quoting Joe McDonald, lead singer of the 1960s band Country Joe and the Fish, who supported the tree-sitters: "I think they're gonna pull 'em right out of the trees and slam 'em in jail, cut down the trees and build a sports facility. Money talks and so does sports."

University spokesman Dan Mogulof had a different view. "There are some old-growth forests that need protection," he said. "This isn't one of them. This is a 1923 landscaping project. What's happened is bordering on the absurd."

In July, 2008, Miller ruled in the university's favor, and by September the trees were cut down.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: A tent occupied by tree-sitters is visible over to the top of UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium in 2007. Credit: Los Angeles Times


John O'Quinn couldn't take his cars with him

John O'Quinn, the high-profile Texas trial attorney who died Oct. 29 in Houston, loved cars. Loved 800 of Oquinn them enough to own them. O'Quinn's classic-car collection includes a Batmobile, an array of Duesenbergs, muscle cars and Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce once owned by Howard Hughes and a 1975 Ford Escort driven around by Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II.

The Houston Chronicle considered the extra-special used-car lot in a story earlier this week:

The value of the collection is hard to determine. It was once said to be worth more than $100 million, but that was more than 200 cars ago. Experts claim his collection has more cars with a price in excess of $1 million than any other, and that if the entire inventory was put up for auction it would depress the market by at least 40 percent.

And how did O'Quinn die? In a car accident, when he slammed his SUV into a tree after losing control on a rainy street. Neither he nor his passenger, Johnny Cutliff, were wearing seat belts.

To read the rest of the Houston Chronicle story, click here.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: John O'Quinn in 2006. Credit: David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Michelle Triola Marvin dies of lung cancer at 75


Michelle Triola Marvin, 75, whose lawsuit against her actor companion Lee Marvin resulted in the introduction  of the term "palimony," died today in Malibu, where she shared a home with actor Dick Van Dyke. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer last year.

Michelle Triola Marvin and Lee Marvin were not married, but when she and the Oscar-winning star of "Cat Ballou" split up, she felt she deserved $1.8 million, half what he made during the six years they were together. Celebrity divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson represented her, arguing that unmarried couples base their relationships on contracts that may be unwritten but remain as legitimate and binding as those with a marriage certificate.

She ultimately received no money from Marvin, but she did help "palimony" become part of the Hollywood lexicon.

More later at

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Michelle Triola Marvin and her lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, in 1979. As the text attached to the photo says, a  judge ordered Lee Marvin to pay her $104,000; that award, however, was later overturned on appeal, and she did not receive any money from the actor. Credit: Associated Press


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