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Jack Hochman

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Jack Hochman Obituary
Hochman, Jack BONITA -- Jack Hochman, a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, lost his battle with liver disease Nov. 26, 2013, and died surrounded by people who loved him. Jack was born in Indianapolis, Ind., to Saul and Jacquie Hochman. He grew up in the city and attended Indiana University, where he graduated in 1972 with a degree in business. Then it was off to California. He completed his law degree at San Francisco Law School in 1976 and interned with the Public Defender in San Francisco, the beginning of his lifelong love of indigent criminal defense. He maintained a private practice in San Francisco for more than a decade before moving to San Diego in 1986. He began full time criminal defense practice with Defenders, Inc. and he became one of the first attorneys hired for the newly formed San Diego County Public Defender's Office in 1988, where he remained until his retirement in 2011. "Jack was a Public Defender in heart and soul, with passion and dedication to the indigent client that was unparalleled," said Henry C. Coker, head Public Defender for San Diego County. "He was a humanitarian and had the innate ability to touch the hearts of his listeners and to sway the minds of those he encountered. The number of lives he affected is immeasurable, and our community has lost a tremendous individual." His wife of 25 years, Kay L. Sunday, also a criminal defense attorney in San Diego, said "Jack was passionate about his work, especially trial work, and was never happier than when in trial. He was considered a lawyer's lawyer, a formidable opponent and he mentored many young lawyers, something he very much enjoyed and which was very important to him. He represented four people charged with the death penalty during his career, none of whom are on death row today, as a result of his zealous work on their behalf." Jose Varela, an attorney who worked with Jack in the South Bay courts, has equally strong memories of Jack. "He told me I was wrong on many occasions and I told him the same," Jose wrote to Kay. "We would laugh and still push forward. Jack's concern for his clients and his love of criminal law were equal passions for him. For a big man he was the gentlest of counselors when it came to his clients and he had the enthusiastic vigor of a law student when he read the law. He was dedicated to his craft and he reveled in the practice of law. Jack is one of the great characters I have run across in my life. I am sure others feel the same." Jack battled tirelessly in the '90s for reforms in the application of the "Three Strikes" law and argued successfully on behalf of a client whose third strike - stealing a can of beer - would have put the 18-year-old behind bars for life. "He fought in trial valiantly for three strike clients," Varela said, "and I am hopeful that any injustices his clients suffered as a result of the three strikes law were rectified in his life time." Richard Jayakumar, a Public Defender for San Diego County who worked with Jack, said his mentor "was a brilliant trial attorney, zealous advocate for his clients, and generous to his colleagues. He was a truly wonderful man, friend, and husband." In 2007, Jack received the Trial Attorney of the Year Award from the Board of Directors of the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association, an organization of which he had been president from 1999 to 2000. When he accepted the award, he said, with great emotion, that it was the only award he would ever want to receive. For an eloquent attorney, Jack was a quiet and reflective man with a passionate inner core. He enjoyed riding his motorcycles, scuba diving, traveling, going to folk music festivals and with his friends to Burning Man, a weeklong event in the northern Nevada desert that reminded him of Woodstock. He and Kay traveled extensively, often for scuba adventures. Australia, Belize, the Grand Caymans, and Costa Rica were favorite diving destinations. He loved Cabo, returning to Mexico year after year, and also loved Paris, where he could have spent every day in the Louvre. In addition to his wife, Kay, Jack is survived by his brother David Hochman, sister Robby and brother-in-law Steve Greenberg, niece and nephew-in-law Eden and Dan Scanlon and great- nieces Helena and Ella Scanlon, all from the Fort Lauderdale area; and stepson Rob Winingear from San Diego. A Memorial Service will be held Friday, January 10, 2014 at 12:30 at the Bristol Court Hotel at 1055 First Avenue (at "C" Street), San Diego, CA, in the Starlight Room, ninth floor, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the UCSD Center for Transplantation, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0940, La Jolla, 92093-0940 or call 858-534-4493 for online giving.
Published in U-T San Diego on Jan. 8, 2014
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