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Pioneering Los
Angeles judge dies

Pioneering Los
Angeles judge dies

Los Angeles superior court judge Robert J. Sandoval, who was one of the city's first openly gay prosecutors, has died. He was 56. Sandoval died February 28 of a heart attack while being treated for leukemia at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., said Bill Martin, his partner of 23 years. Sandoval joined the Los Angeles city attorney's office in 1978 as part of an effort by then-city attorney Burt Pines to recruit more gays and minorities. He was elected a commissioner of the municipal court in 1984 and became a superior court commissioner in 1997. Then-governor Gray Davis appointed him to the Los Angeles superior court in 2001. "He was a pioneer in the sense of being open about being gay and enjoying his work and not suffering any discrimination," said Deputy City Attorney Matthew St. George, who had known Sandoval for 20 years. Colleagues described Sandoval as evenhanded and efficient. He believed that being gay gave him insights that could improve the judicial process. He asked prospective jurors whether they had a domestic partner or a spouse and ended the practice of announcing in open court the results of AIDS tests given to people facing prostitution charges. Among his high-profile cases was the 1995 prosecution of British actor Hugh Grant on prostitution charges. "He was totally respectful of the rights of everyone in the process. That was one of the reasons everyone thought so highly of him," said superior court judge Michael Nash, who supervised Sandoval when he was a children's court commissioner in the late 1990s. St. George said Sandoval and Martin were one of the first gay male couples to adopt a child in Los Angeles County. Sandoval continued to help their son, Harrison, 13, with his homework every night even when he was hospitalized, friends said. In addition to Martin and Harrison, Sandoval is survived by his mother, Gilda Sandoval of Rosemead, Calif.; and two sisters, Francie Turner of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Claudia Davis of Reno. (AP)

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