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Loss of talented legal minds marks first half of 2013

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The local community lost three legal giants in the first half of 2013 while Thomas Jefferson School of Law found a new leader and the San Diego County Bar Association moved into a new home.

The year's first six months were also marked by a simmering feud between San Diego's city attorney and its mayor.

Among the big stories so far in 2013 include:

Trio of great legal minds pass away
Renowned litigator Harvey Levine died Feb. 5 at the age of 68 following a lengthy stomach ailment. He piled up countless victories during a nearly 40-year career, capped by membership in the state's Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.

The San Diego community also lost Edwin L. Miller Jr., who served as San Diego County District Attorney for 24 years, March 3 at the age of 87. His career in public service also included a stint as the first U.S. Attorney in San Diego, and while in the DA's office, he established the first antitrust unit in the country for a local prosecutor's office.

On April 23, Ross M. Pyle, former chief judge of the federal bankruptcy court in San Diego and a prominent local attorney, died suddenly at his home. He served as a judge of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California from 1975-1985 and was its chief judge from 1983-1985.

City attorney prosecutes chalk vandal
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith received some unwanted notoriety in June after bringing charges against a 40-year-old man for writing anti-bank slogans in water soluble chalk in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego. A jury acquitted the man of all charges, and many questioned the city attorney's office for prosecuting what they felt was such a harmless case.

TJSL gets a new president
Thomas Jefferson School of Law hired Thomas Guernsey as its new dean and president, replacing Rudy Hasl on July 1. Guernsey is a former dean of Albany Law School.

When he stepped down this summer, Hasl was the longest tenured law school dean in the country, having guided four different schools for a total of more than 30 years.

San Diego Bar gets new offices
The San Diego County Bar Association moved its headquarters to the Columbia Center at 401 W. A St., putting itself closer to the city's cluster of courthouses. The move had been years in the making, and enables the local bar to be more accessible to its members.

Jacobs' Plaza de Panama renovation plan nixed by judge
In February, a Superior Court judge ruled against Irwin Jacob's $45.3 million plan to renovate Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama, saying the project was improperly approved and violated municipal law. The proposal included a bypass bridge and a paid parking garage to eliminate vehicle traffic from the center of Balboa Park.

Gay marriage gets boost from Supreme Court
Supporters of same-sex marriage got a huge double-victory from the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, when the justices determined the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and let stand a trial court's ruling that deemed California's Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional as well.



-Compiled by Doug Sherwin.

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