Judge Edward Denton served Mono County for 43 years as a District Attorney, a County Counsel and as a Superior Court judge.
Denton grew up in the Mojave Desert, between Ramsburg and Trona. He graduated from the University of Nevada Reno in 1949 and the San Francisco School of Law in 1954.
Upon graduation, he immediately went to work in the Mono County District Attorney’s Office.
He served as both the D.A. and the County Counsel for 30 years before becoming judge in 1985.
He served in this role until his retirement in 1998.
Colleagues, Paul Rudder, Ed Forstenzer, Tim Sanford and Stan Eller and Jim Reed shared stories and thoughts from their time working with Denton.
“He was just a terrific judge, but more importantly He was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met.”
Every time I appeared in Eddie’s court after my matter was finished the bailiff would come up to me and say, ‘judge wants to see you in chambers.’
I would go into chambers and he and his clerk Sue were waiting expectantly with their hands clasped. They wanted to know what was going on in Mammoth, and I would give them a ten minute routine on what was going on. They thought it was hilarious. If Eddie was alive today, I could keep him entertained for more than ten minutes.
He would always listen. He never came with preconceived notions. He asked questions.
Eddie approached things in an objective way. He would listen and make decisions that I thought were fair even if I didn’t agree with them. He understood the essence of judging, which is seeing to the heart of the matter
He was just a terrific judge, but even more so he was a fabulous human being.”
“He was one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever known.
“We were the only judges in Mono County so we were each other’s support group. He was a mentor to me. I learned a lot from watching and talking to him.”
“Mono County has gotten a lot more sophisticated than it used to be. It felt like everybody knew everybody and we were more isolated. More informal.
Now they have, what, 4 attorneys in the County Counsel’s office and they have four in the D.A.’s office? Eddie was doing both offices himself. Thats how I got to know him.
He was a fixture, a legend.
He was he most unpretentious, down- to-earth guy you’ve ever heard of. He was also exceptionally gentle and kind. I only saw him get riled up a few times, I’m talking a few, ‘cause it was not many. He had the right to, because anybody else would have been riled up long before.
It seemed like the whole county was a little more gentle back in those days. He had a part in that. He was a really gentle guy.
You couldn’t have a discussion with him without him cracking a few jokes. He had a very dry wit and he was not at all reluctant to make fun of himself. He was often the brunt of his own jokes.”
“I first met Eddie Denton in December 1981 when I applied for a job with him at the District Attorney’s office. I answered an ad in a legal newspaper for Deputy District Attorney. I wanted to come live in the mountains. I wore a flannel shirt and I think that’s what got me the job.”
He was one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever met. Sometimes you couldn’t quite understand his sense of humor but you laughed anyways. A good irishman with an irish twinkle in his eyes. He served his county well.”
“In 1984 he was out of the office, in Washington D.C. lobbying for an appointment to the superior court.
The Department of Water and Power was threatening to shut off water to Rush Creek.
I didn’t have Eddie
It was just [Dick] Dahlgren and myself. We found a code section saying that they could not shut off water to a creek once a fishery had been established. We threatened to arrest the person from DWP who was going to shut off the power, and Rush Creek continued to flow.
Denton came back and I was concerned.
He had a congenial relationship with DWP. His reaction was “I’m behind you 100%. Don’t give it another thought. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
“I thought he was the nicest man in the world, and the fairest judge who kept the most comfortable court I’ve ever been in.
Eddie just had the knack for determining the fairest and most elegant and most equitable way to resolve a dispute, and he had a great sense of humor.
A lot of judges can be jerks. Not Eddie.”
Reed’s favorite story, and he can’t divulge the name of the attorney, but it went like this:
“One attorney got pissed about a ruling. It was up in Bridgeport, and as most folks kmow, there are two entrances to the courtroom; one for the public at large and one for the judge.
Well, the attorney came out of the courtroom and just hurled his briefcase down the hallway – and hurled it probably a bit further than he intended. The briefcase landed at Eddie’s feet.
He just laughed.”
Judge Denton’s funeral (Infant of Prague Catholic Church), internment (cemetery) and celebration of life (Memorial Hall) will take place in Bridgeport on August 15 starting at 12 p.m.