A longtime active jurist in Fresno died this morning (March 6).

Justice Gene Gomes served on the California 5th District Court of Appeal, based in Fresno.

According to his state bio, Gomes served on the appellate court since 2002, appointed by Gov. Gray Davis. He was a Fresno County Superior Court judge before that, starting in 1980.

High Praise from Colleague

“It is very sad news. He was an institution here,” said Brad Hill, the presiding judge of the 5th District.

Hill said that Gomes was hospitalized with an illness last Thursday and suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

“He was an extraordinarily engaging person. He was witty, fun, and brilliant. That is sometimes a rare combination. He would brighten up a room. When you walked in and saw Gene there, you knew it would be a fun conference,” Hill praised.

“He had insights that no one else had that were remarkably on point,” he continued.

Fresno High and Fresno State Grad

A Fresno native, Gomes was born in 1946, and attended Fresno High and Fresno State. He earned his law degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1972.

After law school, Gomes worked as a deputy district attorney in Fresno County, before moving into private practice in 1977. In 1980, Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the Fresno County bench.

Hill says flags will be at half-staff at the court in his honor.

With his death, the Fresno appeals court now has two vacancies among its 10 members. The governor is in charge of appointments.

ABC 30’s Corin Hoggard first reported the story on Twitter.

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