The RCBA has established the E. Aurora Hughes Meritorious Award for Service.
This award is to honor the late E. Aurora Hughes, who was a past President of the RCBA and was a long-time supporter and participant in many of its activities. Aurora sadly lost her fight to ALS in 2011 but her legacy continues. In her honor, the RCBA Board of Directors established an annual award, which will be presented to its recipient on the night of the Installation Dinner.
Candidates for the award must demonstrate a commitment to dedicated service to the Riverside County Bar Association. In particular, those to be considered for the award shall (1) be lawyers, inactive lawyers, or judicial officers (2) who are serving or have served in Riverside County and (3) who have accumulated an outstanding record of service or achievement to the Riverside County Bar Association. Current members of the RCBA Board of Directors are ineligible to be nominated.
2011—E. Aurora Hughes (awarded posthumously)
2013—Justice Thomas E. Hollenhorst
2017—Judge Gloria C. Trask
2018—Robyn A. Lewis
2019—Judge Becky Dugan
2021 – Christopher Jensen
(Remarks delivered by Presiding Justice Manuel A. Ramirez at the Annual Installation Dinner of the Riverside County Bar Association, September 19, 2013)
When Jackie Carey-Wilson asked me to introduce my colleague and our friend, Associate Justice Thomas E. Hollenhorst, as this year’s recipient of the E. Aurora Hughes Meritorious Award for Service, my first thought was, how wonderful and appropriate that Justice Hollenhorst should be recognized in this way.
My second thought was, what exactly is the E. Aurora Hughes Meritorious Award for Service?
It’s not that I hadn’t heard of it; of course, I had. But with this being only the third year the award has been given, I wasn’t as familiar with it as, perhaps, I should have been.
I did know, of course, that this was an award established in 2011 in honor of quite an amazing woman. Aurora Hughes lost her battle that year to ALS, or, as we know it, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and she was given this award that year, posthumously.
I knew Aurora professionally, having met her many times through bar activities, and like everyone else, I held her in the highest esteem and in the highest regard. If the other recipients of the award given in her name are expected to measure up to her standards and her commitment to this community and to our bar association, then you will have your work cut out for you in finding those deserving to receive the E. Aurora Hughes Meritorious Award for Service.
But you did a good job this year. In fact, you did a great job! Tom Hollenhorst graduated from San Jose State in 1968 and received his Juris Doctorate from Hastings School of Law in 1971. The following year, he started working for the Riverside County District Attorney as a Deputy District Attorney.
He became an Assistant District Attorney in 1977, and he was the Acting District Attorney in 1981. Shortly thereafter, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the Riverside Municipal Court, and, in 1986, Governor George Deukmejian elevated him to the Riverside Superior Court. Then, in 1988, Governor Deukmejian appointed Judge Hollenhorst to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two, as an Associate Justice.
Now, 25 years later, in the modern era of our court of appeal, Justice Hollenhorst is the longest sitting Associate Justice to ever serve here in Division Two.
Like Aurora Hughes, Justice Hollenhorst’s career has been so much more than just the work of being a lawyer, and in his case, being a judge, as well.
As we all know, Justice Hollenhorst has a passion for education at all levels of our profession. For example, Justice Hollenhorst is the former chair of the Center for Judicial Education and Research’s Governing Committee. Justice Hollenhorst has also been a member of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Judges’ Seminar Series Planning Committee. He has also been a Judicial Advisory Board member of the University of Kansas Law and Organizational Economics Center. And along the way, Justice Hollenhorst has been either a chair or a member of numerous CJER planning committees, as well as a faculty member for many CJER programs and institutes.
Justice Hollenhorst is also known throughout California and the nation for his work on judicial ethics, with judges statewide and nationally seeking his advice and his opinions on ethical matters. To put this into its perspective, I would estimate he’s given opinions on ethical matters numbering in the thousands – remarkable would be an understatement, given his demanding schedule and heavy caseload over the many years of his career!
Perhaps more telling, however, is that over the past 25 years, Justice Hollenhorst has brought somewhere between 120 and 140 undergraduate and graduate students into his chambers as appellate externs, mentoring them during their time at the court and beyond. In fact, some of those externs, like Judge John Lewis and Kira Klatchko, to name a couple, are highly successful judges and attorneys, who, we can only hope, will carry on his tradition of encouraging students, so that each generation of young lawyers is better and richer in knowledge for having been nurtured by the previous generation.
And finally, let us not forget that Justice Hollenhorst has, for the past many years, judged the final championship round of Mock Trial competitions.
And so, just as Aurora Hughes had diverse and unusual interests – sport shooting, hunting, and writing, to name just a few – so, too, the same can be said of Justice Hollenhorst’s interests, which also range far and wide. You know that movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Well, for him it would be Planes, Boats, and Motorcycles.
For example, there have been many afternoons when a line of colleagues and staff would form behind Justice Hollenhorst’s car in the parking lot at our court of appeal, and he would dispense packages of freshly caught tuna or some other deep-sea delight on a first-come, first-served basis. He loves fishing – one of his many loves.
Also like Aurora, the thing that rounds Tom out and makes his life its most complete is his family.
His wife of some 42 years, Beth; and his sons and their wives, Tim and Norine, Peter and Christa; and most particularly, his beloved grandchildren, Madison, Jacob, Sean, and Sarah, are all just the joys and the delights of his life. And, I might add, Tom is also known as a passionate dog-lover!
On a personal note, when I mentioned to Tom that I had been given the honor of introducing him tonight and talking about his accomplishments, he shrugged. It was readily apparent to me that he was a little uncomfortable with the attention, and he said, “Manuel, I’m just a plow horse,” to which I replied, “Well, Tom, even a plow horse gets some rest and a fresh bucket of oats from time to time.” What do you suppose his response was? He shook his head and said, “No, not this plow horse.”
I couldn’t get that image out of my mind, so I did a little digging. Do you know that, back in the old days, when a farmer went to auction to get a plow horse, he knew just what he was looking for?
He walked right by all the pretty, sleek, and sassy horses, the ones that caught everyone’s attention and everyone’s eye because they were so flashy or so energetic, prancing around as if to say, “Hey there, farmer, look at me!”
The farmer, however, was looking for the horse with broad shoulders, so it could pull a heavy load. The farmer was also looking for the one with a steady eye, so it wouldn’t be distracted by every little thing that fluttered by. The farmer was looking for the one with a sure gait, so it wouldn’t stumble when the path proved difficult. In the end, the farmer was looking for the horse he knew could get the job done – getting the job done, that’s what the farmer thought was important! That’s the perfect description of tonight’s recipient: Justice Hollenhorst is the one who can get the job done, and he continues to get the job done, and he does the job with passion and dedication.
Over the past 25 years on our court of appeal, despite serving on numerous committees, despite mentoring externs every year, despite serving his community, despite being fully involved with his family and his hobbies, Justice Hollenhorst has authored something in the range of 4,000 appellate court opinions. Both impressive and unique. In 1989-1990, Justice Hollenhorst served as Acting Presiding Justice at a time when there were two vacant seats on our court of appeal – only three justices were sitting on our court at that time. Justice Hollenhorst volunteered to oversee the work of the attorneys in the vacant chambers, in addition to his own staff.
He was supervising some eight to ten attorneys for that year, and he authored an incredible 315 opinions – in one year! That’s a record for our court, and I’m pretty sure it’s a record for any justice in any court of appeal in the State of California, or any other court of appeal, for that matter. Rest assured that each and every opinion was thoroughly read and reviewed by him.
At a time when our court was buried under what seemed to be an insurmountable backlog, Justice Hollenhorst, assisted by Justice Howard Dabney, devised what is now our tentative opinion program. It’s the only tentative opinion program in the State of California, and probably the entire country, and we get nothing but great feedback about the tentative opinion program from you, the people we serve. You have Justice Hollenhorst to thank for the creation of that remarkable and innovative program.
Winston Churchill reportedly said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Over Justice Hollenhorst’s 25 years on our bench, he has made a remarkable personal and professional life, and he has made a remarkable personal and professional life because he has given to our profession and to our community so uniquely of himself.
I want to give you another quote, one I think is perhaps even more eloquent, if that is possible, than Mr. Churchill’s, because it is a quote from Justice Hollenhorst himself from the occasion of our recent celebration of his 25th anniversary on our court of appeal. I think it perfectly reflects the heart and the mind of this hard-working, dedicated, great, decent, humble, and wonderful man. He said, and I quote, “The thing is to leave something behind in all our work. If it’s all about me, what’s left? Serve as an example. Do your work, but help others at the same time. Then, and only then, will there be something left.”
By recognizing Justice Hollenhorst with this award, you honor the memory, the legacy, and the spirit of E. Aurora Hughes – she would be so very proud, and so thrilled, to know that Justice Hollenhorst is being recognized for his many years of service to our bar association, our community, and our administration of justice system. Tonight, in spirit, she joins us in honoring Justice Hollenhorst.
Presiding Justice Manual A. Ramirez and Justice Thomas E. Hollenhorst