This page is dedicated to honoring the memory and preserving the legacy of Kern County lawyers that have passed away in recent years. If you would like to suggest an addition to this page, please contact the Kern County Bar Association. To view more information about a particular attorney listed here, please click on their name to be directed to the article written in their memory.
Guy Joseph Gattuso, Jr. – August 30, 1952 - March 23, 2014
Guy Joseph Gattuso, Jr. was born and raised in Punxsutawney, PA. An accident at age 11 resulted in his walking with crutches for the rest of his life. However, he was still able to accomplish all he set his mind to achieve. He earned his JD degree from McGeorge School of Law and moved to Bakersfield in 1983 to work for Borton, Petrini & Conron. Ten years later he opened his own law practice. Guy loved model railroading, grilling, cars, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates, gardening and playing trumpet, but mostly he loved hanging out with his family at home where there was always laughter and spirited conversation. He is survived by his wife, Debra; children Natalie and Guy Joseph; mother, Irmela Gattuso; two sisters, and many other family members and friends.
Stanley Mosley, Sr. – May 9, 1951 - April 13, 2014
Stanley James Mosley, Sr. was born in Fresno and moved to Bakersfield with his family in 1953. He attended local schools, graduating from Bakersfield High School. He served in the United States Army from 1970-1973, which included a tour of duty in Vietnam. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he returned home and became an officer and ultimately a detective in the Bakersfield Police Department. When he left the BPD, he started his own Private Investigation Services, providing investigative services in many criminal cases. He is survived by his ex-wife and good friend, Valerie Strong Mosley, son Justin Mosley; Mother, Algie Mosley; his brother, McKinley Mosley; and his sisters, Shirley Ray and Carolyn Womack; as well as many other family members and friends.
Kenneth Keith Cooley – December 21, 1951 – June 11, 2014
Kenneth Cooley was born in Missouri and raised in Southern Illinois and Ohio. He moved to California with his family when he was in high school. Upon graduation from high school, Ken entered the United States Army Academy at West Point. After his first semester, he returned to California and enrolled in San Diego State University, where he earned a degree in Sociology. After graduating from college, Ken enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned to the Airborne Infantry, where he served with distinction. Following his discharge from the army, Ken earned his JD degree from Western State University School of Law in San Diego. He moved to Bakersfield in 1990 and went to work for the Kern County Public Defender’s Office. In 1994, Ken left the Public Defender’s Office to start his own practice, specializing in criminal defense. All who speak of Ken recall his sweet disposition and his innate kindness. Ken Cooley is survived by his sister, Laurel Cooley; his brother, Robert Clague Cooley; special friend Kathy Furlong; and many friends.
J. Richard “Dick” Thomas, February 24, 1923 - July 21, 2014
J. Richard “Dick” Thomas was born in Alhambra, California. In high school he won the CIF Valley Championship in tennis. When World War II broke out Dick left Stanford University and transferred to Midshipman School at Cornell University. He served in the North Atlantic as a line officer. He returned to Stanford after the war and subsequently earned his JD degree Hastings College of Law. Dick Thomas was a sole practitioner throughout his career as a lawyer. Although Dick Thomas’s competitive tennis career ended with the war, he enjoyed playing tennis his entire life. He also traveled all over the world. His favorite place was Kauai, Hawaii, to which he returned twice each year. Dick Thomas is survived by his two daughters, Renee Wylie and Sharon Thomas, as well as grandchildren and many friends.
Sonia Simrin – January 12, 1938 – September 17, 2014
Sonia Simrin was raised in Bakersfield. She graduated from Bakersfield High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Southern California. Returning home to Bakersfield, Sonia went to work as a social worker for the Kern County Welfare Department. Sonia then began her life’s work in finding jobs for people. She started as an employment counselor for Snelling and Snelling, and then opened her own business, Rand Personnel. She married Stan Simrin in 1964 and became mother to his four children. Along with her husband, Sonia was a leader in Bakersfield’s Jewish community. Sonia is survived by her children, Steve Simrin, Susie Easley, Amy Knight, and Andy Simrin, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many, many friends.
Eric Wendell Matlock – April 28, 1949 – September 21, 2014
Eric Wendell Matlock was born and raised in Bakersfield. He graduated from Bakersfield High School and earned a B.A. in Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from CSUB and was in the first class of CSUB Hall of Family honorees. Eric joined the Bakersfield Police Department in 1970. He worked in every aspect of the department. He became a detective in 1974 and rose from the ranks as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief, and finally Chief of Police. He retired from the Bakersfield Police Department in 2004. Eric Matlock was an avid student and talented teacher. He loved all sports, actively participating in running, skiing, and golf. He is survived by his wife, Illene; his daughters, Stacey and Korey; his father, Oliver, and stepmother, Arneta; brother Steven; sister, Tracey Hicks; grandchildren, and many other family members and friends.
Robert T. Baca – January 27, 1925 - November 3, 2014
Robert Baca was born in Socorro, New Mexico. Upon his high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He flew 45 bombing missions throughout the Pacific Theater in a B-24 Liberator. His flying troupe was known as the Bomber Barons. Returning from the war, Robert earned his undergraduate degree attended the University of Southern California and his law degree from Loyola Marymount University. He worked as a criminal defense attorney in East Los Angeles from 1957 to 1968 and was active in political and civic organizations, serving as an early member of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and a legal advisor for the G.I. Forum, a civil rights organization for Hispanic veterans. He worked briefly as a Deputy District Attorney in Merced County, before moving to Bakersfield in 1969, where he was the Chief Trial Attorney for the Kern County Public Defender's Office. In 1976 Governor Jerry Brown appointed Robert to the Bakersfield Municipal Court and three years later to the Kern County Superior Court in 1979. Judge Baca retired from the bench in 1992, but he continued to sit as a retired judge until 2004. Judge Baca is survived by his wife, Marion; his sons Richard, Tom, and John; his brother, Gilbert; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and many friends.
Christine “Chrissy” Elizabeth Mettler – May 12, 1988 – December 14, 2014
Chrissy Mettler was born in Kwangju, South Korea. She became a part of the Mettler family, joining her mother, Sharon; father, Steve; and brother, Matthew at LAX on September 13, 1988. Chrissy attended local schools, graduating from Centennial High School. She was a gifted athlete, dancing and participating in karate as a young child, skiing and snowboarding, playing softball, tennis, and swimming. She was a gifted soccer player and golfer. Chrissy also had a strong love of music of all kinds. During Chrissy’s junior year of college at California State University, Bakersfield, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. She persevered and earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2010. At the time of her death she was working as a marketing coordinator for Klein DeNatale Goldner. Chrissy Mettler is survived by her parents, Judge Sharon Mettler and Steve Mettler; her brother, Matthew Mettler; and numerous family members and friends..
Walter Scott Binns
After earning a degree in Agribusiness, Scott worked as a produce salesman for ten years and then entered law school, graduating from Santa Clara University in 2005. Scott Binns had an infectious enthusiasm and welcoming smile and was a joyful parent of his 11 month old daughter, Josette at his passing in September 2013.
After being diagnosed with ALS in 1999, Michael Gagner served as an inspiration to many. He and his wife, Stacy Inman, became advocates for those afflicted with ALS doing much to bring call attention to the needs of those living with the diagnosis. Michael died November 12, 2013.
After serving as a Deputy District Attorney in San Bernardino County from, Dan Tobias was in the Ridgecrest City Attorney. He served as a judge of the East Kern Municipal Court and after retirement he worked in the assigned judges program. An avid reader with a keen interest in history, Dan Tobias passed away December 1, 2013.
Michael B. Ryan
Michael Ryan was a fabulous and effective trial lawyer whose effectiveness surfaced in his genuinely sincere blue collar appeal to jurors. He was a passionate Irishman who knew how and when to inflect his voice to make a point and exaggerate the phrase of a poem or story, just enough, to tug at the heart of jurors. Michael Ryan passed away February 20, 2014.
Jack B. Hislop
Jack B. Hislop passed away peacefully on November 8, 2011. Jack was a past president of the Kern County Bar Association and a recipient of the Bench and Bar award who was greatly admired and highly respected within the legal community.
Michael R. Gardina
Michael Gardina, a well-known Kern County defense attorney, passed away on March 25, 2011, after a short battle with cancer. He was 61 years old.
George Wright Quick
George Wright Quick passed away on March 20, 2011 at the age of 66. He is survived by his wife of almost 40 years, their son and daughter, and five grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.
James T. Lanier
Jim Lanier, a U.S. Navy veteran who pursued his law degree at night and on weekends while supporting a growing family in the 1960s, passed away on November 25, 2010. He was 75 years old.
Kenneth A. Holland
Ken Holland, a partner at Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb and Kimball, LLP, lost a short but courageous battle with cancer on September 16, 2010. Ken was a graduate of UCLA and received his J.D. from Notre Dame.
Joe Noriega, father of local attorney Rob Noriega and recipient of the Bench & Bar Award in 1995, was well-liked and well-respected in the Kern County legal community. After retiring from the bench, he focused his practice mainly on personal injury law. He lost his life to cancer on August 3, 2010.
Bruce Bunker passed away surrounded by his family on June 24, 2009 at the age of 84. A past president of the KCBA, Bruce's 55-year long practice didn't end after he "officially" retired in 2006; rather, he continued coming into the office daily for years.
Bob Self passed away at the age of 77 on June 11, 2009. Bob was a recipient of the Bench & Bar Award, successfully argued three cases before the California Supreme Court, and practiced business law and civil litigation for over 42 years before retiring in 2002.
Judge Lewis E. King
Retired Judge Lewis E. King passed away on January 4, 2013 at the age of 88 years. Judge King had a long and distinguished career in the Kern County legal community, first as a Public Defender, and thereafter as a Municipal and Superior Court Judge.