LOS ANGELES — Former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, who took the court’s helm after three justices were voted out during a stormy period in the 1980s, has died. He was 89.
Lucas died Wednesday at home in Los Angeles after battling cancer since early this year, his family said.
Lucas, a federal judge, was appointed in 1984 to the state’s high court by Gov. George Deukmejian, his former law partner. He became a dissenting voice in the then liberal court.
Two years later and for the first time in the court’s history, three of its members were voted out after a campaign that focused on their opposition to the death penalty. Chief Justice Rose Bird and Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso had been appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Lucas was named chief justice in 1987 and is credited with shifting the tribunal rightward before stepping down in 1996.
“Malcolm was a wonderful colleague, a man of great integrity and principal, a wise judge, and a valued personal friend,” Deukmejian said in a statement. “I am deeply saddened by his loss.”
Brown, in a statement, said Lucas “led California’s highest court with a steady hand and probing mind.”
Lucas is survived by his wife, Fiorenza Courtright Lucas, two children — California State Librarian Greg Lucas and Lisa Lucas Mooney — and six stepchildren.