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The Forgotten Years

San Diego Judge Lewis Wenzell

Posted on | March 14, 2010 | 338 Comments

Appointed by Governor Brown in 1978 at the age of 35, Judge Wenzell was “modernistic” in his judicial views and personal manners.

In 1972 he had moved to San Diego and became a Senior Trial Attorney in the Federal Defenders Office.  An expert defense lawyer, he joined the San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers Club, and in 1976 he wrote a chapter in the Public Defenders’ Source Book.

Shortly after his appointment it became apparent the Wenzell was destined for quite a future in the Jerry Brown Judiciary. Just a year after taking the Municipal Bench he was selected by Jerry Brown’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rose Bird, to serve a two-year term on the California Judicial Council – the administrative agency of the state’s judiciary.  Such an honor is usually reserved for veteran members of the courts.  Wenzell also became a member of the Governing Committee of the Council for Judicial Education and Research.

But the liberal jurist’s promising career was put in serious doubt by a scandal revealed in August of 1981.  During a grand jury investigation of a prostitution ring in San Diego, it was discovered that the judge had been a regular customer for such services since at least 1977.  The testimony heard by the grand jury luridly described repeated bizarre behavior by Wenzell.  So bizarre that even decadent elements of society might question his legal, moral, and psychological fitness to be a judge.

Under oath, Vanessa Penny described her long-term relationship with Wenzell.

Comments

338 Responses to “San Diego Judge Lewis Wenzell”

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