Justice David G. Sills 1938-2011


IRVINE, Calif., Aug. 25, 2011—Presiding Justice David G. Sills of the 4th District Court of Appeal died Tuesday evening from cancer. He was 73.

Sills led the 4th District in Santa Ana for more than two decades and oversaw the construction of its new courthouse in 2009. He was also a member of the Founding Dean's Advisory Council at UC Irvine School of Law, and was instrumental in creating the school.

"It is with great sadness that the judicial branch marks the passing of an extraordinary and accomplished person," said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in a statement. "Presiding Justice Sills led a remarkable life. He was an acclaimed jurist, a courageous veteran, a respected mayor and an exemplary branch leader. I send my thoughts and prayers to his family."

Born in Peoria, Ill., in 1938, Sills came to Orange County as an Eagle Scout for a Boy Scout jamboree that took place in 1953 on land that later became Fashion Island shopping center. He graduated from Bradley University and then the University of Illinois College of Law in 1961, then served in the Marine Corps until 1965.

After that, he built a successful law practice in Irvine and eventually became mayor of the city in 1976. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern California Association of Governments, and a member of the Orange County Sanitary District Board of Directors during the mid-1980s. He was also Chairman of the Board of the Irvine Health Foundation from 1985 on.

Sills was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court in 1985 by Gov. George Deukmejian. In 1990, he became Presiding Justice of Division 3 of the 4th District Court of Appeal. While on the bench, he wrote more than 2,000 court decisions, including key opinions on surrogate motherhood, insurance policy limits, and the custody of O.J. Simpson's children.

State Bar Executive Director Joseph Dunn, who described Sills as "my second father," said the judge was very closely involved with the building of the Santa Ana courthouse. "He really wanted to participate in the construction," Dunn told the Daily Journal.

Sills is survived by his wife Susan and his brother Dan. The funeral service will be private.

For more on Sills' life and work, see his obituary in The Recorder.

UC Irvine School of Law has been selected to receive monetary donations in memory of Justice Sills. Donations will support the Justice David G. Sills Memorial Fund. For more information, please contact Veronica Wilson, Assistant Director of Development, at (949) 824-7424 or vwilson@law.uci.edu.