Judge Canfield's wife, Dori, receives proclamation from Bishop Mayor Jim Ellis.

Judge Canfield’s wife, Dori, receives proclamation from Bishop Mayor Jim Ellis.

Bishop City Proclamation Honoring Memory of Judge Patrick Canfield

By Charles James

It was an emotional moment when, at its last meeting on September 22nd, the Bishop City Council issued a “Proclamation in the Memory of Patrick Canfield Retired Inyo County Superior Court Judge,” prepared at their request. The proclamation was presented by Mayor Jim Ellis to Canfield’s wife, Dori, in the presence of family and friends.

Hired In 1974 as a Deputy District Attorney and Deputy County Counsel under then newly elected District Attorney L.H. “Buck” Gibbons, in 1981, he was appointed as a Justice Court Judge by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. Canfield served as a Judge in Inyo County for over 20 years even as the court system was reorganized several times over the years, changing the Justice Court Judge to Municipal Court Judge, and finally giving way to Superior Court Judge.

The popular Canfield was re-elected several times without opposition until his formal retirement from the bench in 2002, although he continued to serve as a part-time assigned judge, mostly in Inyo and Mono counties, until his full retirement in 2010.

Prior to the reading of the proclamation, Mayor Ellis told those gathered at the meeting that, as a fifteen-year-old, he had been involved in a serious accident and was later called on to testify in court. He was terrified and when questioning by lawyers in the case became almost overwhelming, Judge Canfield stepped in and asked the questions himself, with great consideration and kindness. Ellis became emotional as he described how his respect for the judge and the legal system was greatly changed by the experience and said he had never forgotten how kind and compassionate Judge Canfield was to him on that day.

Current District Attorney Tom Hardy described Canfield as a mentor and “probably one of the most important people in my professional life.” He went on to say, “I am grateful that the City of Bishop honored Judge Canfield.  I tried my very first–and very simple–case before him just a few days after I was sworn in as a lawyer, and I had the great opportunity to appear before him hundreds of times after that.  Not only was he a great judge, but he was a great mentor…  Later on, I got to know him better off the bench as we served on the board of a private (Slager Sunset) Foundation together, and I came to respect his wisdom, insight, and humor even more.  It is still difficult to believe that he is gone.  His passing is a great loss not only for his family and friends, but for our entire community.”

When asked for a comment after the council presentation, current Inyo County Superior Court Judge Dean Stout said, “The death of Pat Canfield is a devastating loss, he was an outstanding judge, mentor, community member and a close friend. His loss is deeply felt throughout the entire community. My deepest condolences go out to his family.”

The proclamation cited Canfield’s many years of service to the community as both a judge and as a beloved figure in the community.

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