Former Lassen County Superior Court Judge Joe Harvey, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, passed recently in Reno, Nevada at the age of 91.
In addition to his 18 years of service as a judge in Lassen County, Harvey led what must be considered an extraordinary life.
Born in China to missionary parents, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later in the U.S. Air Force. He helped draft the California Evidence Code, sat on the Judicial Council of California, participated in the Civil Rights Movement, served 18 years as a Lassen County Superior Court judge and served his community and his church.
Lino Callegari, a former city council member and law enforcement officer, said he remembered Harvey was a very responsible person who was dedicated to his community.
“He was very sincere and honest,” Callegari said, and was fair in his rulings from the bench. “He listened, and he never abused anybody. You have to have the evidence. You weren’t going to go in there and bulldoze him over. He was that smart. He was a very clever man.”
Veteran local politician Jim Chapman remembered going to see Harvey as a 19-year-old in his first campaign for office seeking a seat on the Susanville City Council.
Chapman said an opponent for the seat was erroneously listed as an incumbent instead of an appointed incumbent.
When Chapman tried to correct the issue with the Lassen County Clerk, he got nowhere.
So he went to see Harvey, then a local attorney. Even though he couldn’t afford to pay Harvey anything, he asked for his help. Chapman said Harvey wrote a letter to the county clerk and the matter was corrected.
Sitting Lassen County Superior Court Judge Mark Nareau also remembers Harvey and his impact upon him as a young attorney.
“The judge was always very well versed in the law and the legal issues involved in each case,” Nareau said. “He was always extremely well prepared and willing to engage in an intellectual exchange regarding particularly thorny legal matters. I found the judge to be very willing to entertain different theories and interpretations on complex litigation matters. More importantly, my experience with the judge was that he was always a collegial and very intelligent judicial officer. Although we didn’t always agree on some legal issues, his rulings were always well thought out and supported by relevant law. Judge Harvey was a very community oriented and involved citizen of Lassen County. The judge encouraged community involvement and led by example. His many activities that he participated in helped make this community a better place to reside. He will be missed greatly.”
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the United Methodist Church.