Blake Philip Loebs
Blake Philip Loebs, a well-known and highly regarded San Francisco trial attorney, passed away May 7, 2019 at home with his wife and two young children after a nearly year long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 55.
Blake was born in 1964 to Bruce and Neila Loebs in Eugene, Oregon. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Hayward, California for five years, and then to Pocatello, Idaho. Bruce, an accomplished professor of rhetoric, argumentation and debate, would often play games with Blake and his siblings that encouraged mastery of the English language, provoked constructive debate, and fostered creative deliberation. These disciplines shaped the trajectory of Blake's remarkable career.
Blake graduated Order of the Coif with multiple other high honors from the S.J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah in 1989, and he promptly secured a first-year associate position in the San Francisco office of O'Melveny & Myers. Blake's colleagues from those years remember him as an intelligent, incisive lawyer with enormous potential and a sharp sense of humor. But Blake was never one to follow a predictable path. Craving trial experience and legal issues that invoked his sense of justice, in 1991 Blake took a position as a trial attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office.
Blake served as Deputy City Attorney for 22 years. During those years Blake tallied up the City Attorney's Office's best jury trial record, 25-0, a record that will almost certainly stand for all time. For nine of those 22 years, Blake was Chief of Civil Rights Litigation, where he supervised a 22-member trial team. But Blake's heart never left the courtroom; he personally defended scores of San Francisco Police Department officers against lawsuits alleging excessive force, unlawful searches and seizures, and other constitutional law violations. Blake was widely known in the Department for his exceptional work on its behalf, but his commitment and dedication to the SFPD did not stop in the federal courthouse; he also taught courses at the SFPD police academy on the panoply of legal issues that arise when an officer is required to use force. In 2016, Blake served as lead attorney assisting the San Francisco Police Officers Association in drafting proposed changes to the SFPD's use-of-force and use-of-deadly-force General Orders. On June 22, 2016, the San Francisco Police Commission unanimously approved these new policies. Media coverage described the new General Orders as the most significant policy shift by the San Francisco Police Department in more than 20 years.
Blake handled his own appeals, personally briefing and successfully arguing dozens of cases before the Ninth Circuit and the California Court of Appeal. His work not only changed the law; he also helped the SFPD modernize its policies, procedures and training on the use of force and on high-speed vehicular pursuits. One of Blake's cases was the first published decision approving the use of "suicide-by- cop" expert testimony at trial. Another one of Blake's officer-involved-shooting cases was recently argued before the United States Supreme Court and now serves as a new benchmark for the application of qualified immunity throughout the United States.
Blake frequently spoke of how his work defending the officers of the SFPD was his life's highest honor. He cherished his SFPD relationships and he considered the Department his extended family. Due to his deep reverence and respect for the officers he defended, he worked tirelessly and happily on their behalf. When Blake left the City Attorney's Office to begin defending peace officers statewide as a Principal at the law firm Meyers Nave, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized Blake's achievements by designating February 4, 2015 "Blake Loebs Day" in the City and County of San Francisco. The SFPD and the San Francisco Police Officer's Association also designated him "Citizen of the Year" and awarded him the Medal of Honor, the two highest honors that the SFPD can bestow upon a civilian.
In August 2017, Blake had the opportunity to defend law enforcement one last time in a courtroom, defending the Modesto Police Department. Blake won his last trial, lifting his career record to 26-0. Despite his courtroom successes, however, Blake was modest to a fault. He never sought recognition for his achievements. A quiet titan, Blake preferred sharing his victories with family and close friends at home to accepting accolades for his triumphs. Some of Blake's happiest moments were when he could share lessons from his cases with his children and he reveled in their wonder and curiosity. Blake touched hundreds of lives and was a mentor to many, though he always saw himself as a small part of a much larger picture.
Blake will long be remembered by friends and colleagues for his quirky, occasionally acerbic sense of humor, his keen intelligence, his rigorous attention to detail and his principled honesty. He was an avid Giants fan and was quickly becoming a Golden State Warriors fan with his 8-year old son and 5-year old daughter. He enjoyed playing poker with friends, riding his motorcycles, and driving his vintage convertible Porsche 911 with the top down on sunny days. Though Blake was a devastating debater to anyone who challenged him both in and out of the courtroom, he would concede that his children often got the better of him.
Despite the tremendous impact that Blake had on the legal and law enforcement communities, he was first and foremost a devoted husband and wonderful father to his two young children, Ryan and Amanda. Blake enthusiastically attended San Francisco Giants baseball games with his wife and children and he participated in all of his son's athletic activities. He also never turned down a request to have a tea party with his daughter, or to let her perform a brightly colored pedicure. Blake's imagination knew no bounds, and his children would often giggle themselves to sleep listening to bedtime stories that he made up for them. His children credit him with giving the world's best hugs and the silliest nicknames to everything, for making the best nachos in the universe, and for being a real-life superhero.
The world is emptier without Blake, but exponentially better because of him.
Blake is survived by his wife, Alisa; two young children, Ryan and Amanda; parents, Bruce and Neila; two siblings, Claire and Grant (Elisha); a niece, Sarah; and two nephews, John and Nathaniel.
A memorial service will be held in the Rotunda at San Francisco City Hall on Sunday, July 14, 2019 at 2 pm with a reception to follow in the San Francisco City Hall North Light Court.
In lieu of flowers, a trust has been established to offset education expenses for Blake's young children. Memorial contributions can be made to:
The Loebs Minors Trust
P.O. Box 561
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Assisted by Monte's
Chapel of the Hills,
San Anselmo, CA.