Harold Irving Cherness
July 28, 1922 – March 10, 2016
Judge Cherness (Hal to his friends and those who knew him) was born July 28, 1922 in Brooklyn, the eldest of four children. A keen student with a quick and curious mind, Hal pursued a college degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, until his formal education was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the US Army, in the Pacific theater. Upon his honorable discharge from the military, Hal returned to UCLA, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1946, and shortly thereafter entered law school at the University of Southern California, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.
After 25 years in private practice, much of it as a criminal defense attorney, Hal was appointed to the Municipal Court for the Culver Judicial District in 1975 by Governor Edmund (“Jerry”) Brown Junior and remained on the bench here in Culver City until 1994. During his tenure on the Municipal Court, he developed a reputation for courtesy and civility to attorneys, defendants, staff, and the general public. He later served on the Superior Court as an “on assignment” judge (a judge who substitutes for judges who are sick or on vacation). After 38 years of distinguished service on the bench, Judge Cherness finally retired in 2013 at age 90.
Hal was devoted to his wife, Gertrude Cherness, whom he married in 1945 and with whom he had two children, Janel and Darryl. Two years after Trudy’s death, Hal met and married Carolyn Falstein, with whom he shared 15 wonderful years.
Hal was a longtime member and past president of the Culver City Democratic Club, having joined the Club in 1953, and remained an active member for the rest of his life. As an early member of the Club, he fought for street lights and sewers for Culver City, which at that time was a semi-rural community. In addition, he fought for pay parity for the Culver City Police so that they could earn a salary comparable to the Los Angeles Police. All three goals were ultimately achieved. In 1998 the Democratic Club awarded him the “Trudy Cherness Active Democrat Award,” and his son, Darryl, was privileged to present it to him. In addition, several years ago, he received from the Democratic Club the Club’s first “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Harold Cherness will be remembered as a passionate believer in the law, a fierce defender of civil rights, a committed champion of the under-privileged and working people, and a loving father, husband, and friend of many. He is survived by his daughter, Janel, son Darryl, and granddaughter Isabell.