Conservative former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer at the age of 89, the court announced.
Lucas was appointed as a justice to the court in 1984 by Gov. George Deukmejian, a Republican, and after the controversial recall election of Chief Justice Rose Bird and three other justices, Lucas was elevated to run the court in 1987.
He retired from the bench in 1996.
While he served on the court, it issued landmark rulings on employment law, insurance law, capital punishment and reapportionment.
He presided over an abrupt shift of the court from a liberal bastion to a conservative-dominated court in 1987.
“Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas was a man of great dignity and grace,” said current Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. “He came to the court during a time of upheaval in the judicial branch and he brought stability, peace, and leadership to the court. He was devoted to public service and especially to the court system. He will be greatly missed.”
He is credited with helping increase the efficiency of the court and he presided over implementation of the Trial Court Delay Reduction Act.