Former Judge E. Warren McGuire ’46, whose courtroom at the Marin County Hall of Justice was a place of compassion, fair play and good humor for two decades, died at home in Kentfield on Jan. 2 of prostate cancer. He was 86. McGuire, an Army combat veteran, leaves a legacy of public service at the Civic Center, where he worked as county counsel and as assistant district attorney before Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Marin bench in 1968."Hello, Ron!" he blurted when Reagan called to offer him the judgeship, later worrying he hadn’t shown enough respect. "He was a good man, a true gentleman of the old school who ran his courtroom low key, without a lot of fanfare," recalled Terrence Boren, presiding judge of the Marin Superior Court who prosecuted many cases before Judge McGuire as a young assistant district attorney. At the same time, he was a mischievous, fun Irish personality who loved self-deprecating humor and loud clothes. He wore blinking bow ties to office parties, red blazers at Christmas — along with blue pants and white shoes on occasion — and a bright green coat along with a green cap on St. Patrick’s Day. "He wore golf clothes everywhere," said Sheriff Bob Doyle. "In another life I suspect he was a leprechaun," said Judge Verna Adams, who appeared in Judge McGuire’s court as a lawyer. She said he was a jurist with a light touch but a no-nonsense gravitas that commanded respect and set the tone for the entire bench. "He really was a rock for all of us," Judge Richard Breiner said when Judge McGuire retired in 1988. Judge McGuire presided over some of the county’s most sensational trials. His cases included those involving Angela Davis, George Jackson and others tied to the 1970 Marin courtroom shootout that left his beloved colleague, Judge Harold Haley, and three others dead. Mr. McGuire was scheduled to handle the San Quentin case that triggered the shootout that day, but a divorce he was hearing ran long and the case was given to Haley. Other cases included the trial of two San Rafael teenagers involved in the barbecue pit murders of the girl’s parents; the trial of attorney Stephen Bingham, accused of supplying a gun used in a San Quentin escape attempt in which six died; and the "Pendragon" case in which youths killed a man as part of a bizarre plan to install a laser gun on Mount Tamalpais and take over the county. He was not afraid of making his views crystal clear, writing a blistering letter to a county administrator who criticized the judge’s reluctance to release Angela Davis on bail, dispatching an unusually detailed letter to the editor explaining the reasons for reducing charges in a robbery case, and dismissing objections by county supervisors when he provided funding for a grand jury audit of county government. He was born Feb. 2, 1924, in San Francisco, the son of a milk industry executive who founded the California Dairyman’s Association, and graduated from St. Ignatius High School. He attended Santa Clara University before joining the Army’s 84th Infantry during World War II. He served on the front lines in Europe, and after recovering from combat wounds that killed his foxhole partner in Germany, he became a typist in a judge advocate’s office in Paris. After the war, he earned a law degree at the University of San Francisco, married his wife, Joan, in 1950 and moved to Fairfax. He became active in politics while practicing law in San Rafael, organizing the Young Republican Association of Marin and serving as its first president, working on the GOP central committee, and helping out on nonprofit groups ranging from the Marin Symphony to the Tuberculosis Association.He became a deputy district attorney in 1952, joined the county counsel’s office in 1957, and was named to head the office in 1960, taking over from Leland Jordan and serving as chief for three years before leaving the post in the hands of his assistant, Douglas Maloney, and joining the San Rafael law firm of Bagshaw, Martinelli, Weissich & Jordan. His many cases as private counsel included skillful representation of developer Robert Frouge in 1965, for whom he won a 3-2 vote from county supervisors to build Marincello, a $285 million "new city" of 25,000 on 2,138 acres in the Marin Headlands. The project was delayed by a tangle of legal battles before funding collapsed, enabling Nature Conservancy executive Huey Johnson to obtain an option allowing the land to become part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. "Looking back, I’m glad it didn’t happen," Mr. McGuire said in 1999 of the massive Marincello project. In addition to his wife, Mr. McGuire is survived by three children, Adrienne, Richard and Marian; and four grandchildren.


08 Nov 2018