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On Saturday, October 27, 2012, the Honorable Rodney Gerald Forneret was posthumously inducted into the John M. Langston Bar Association Hall of Fame. The Langston Bar Association was founded as a law club in the mid-1960s to support a small group of African-American lawyers and continues in that tradition today offering networking events, professional support, continuing education, and community service opportunities to minority lawyers in the Los Angeles area. The Langston Bar Association’s 21st Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will honor lawyers practicing law for 35 years or more and who have made significant contributions to the community.
Judge Forneret received his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1974 and began his career as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney. Later, he left the D.A.’s Office to form the Law Offices of Wilson and Forneret with his friend, Ed Wilson, and specialized in criminal defense. Judge Forneret always had his eye on the bench and remained in private practice for only a year before being elected commissioner to the Compton Municipal Court. Governor Jerry Brown then appointed him Judge of the Inglewood Municipal Court in 1981, and he served for 27 years at the Inglewood Courthouse.
One of the founding members of the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), he served on its board of directors from 1978 to 1980, and was also a board member of the South Central Bar Association. As Presiding Judge in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1991, Judge Forneret held leadership positions in the Presiding Judges Association and also served on several court committees.
Ever mindful of the importance of service and education in his own life, he consistently reached out to young people and future lawyers. Judge Forneret also worked hard to help those who appeared before him make positive changes in their lives. Nothing delighted him more than the parolees he would run into and the thanks and kind words they would always have for him. Noted for his fairness on the bench and his friendliness off it, the judge had the ability to get along with everyone and was considered an outstanding administrator.
In 1997, Judge Forneret received the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Municipal Court Judge of the Year Award for his leadership at the court and his implementation of domestic violence programs and development of programs to reduce court backlogs. Elevated to the Superior Court in 2000, Judge Forneret continued to approach every day on the bench with excitement, a smile, and a dedication to serving his profession and the public.
After a long and distinguished career in the legal profession, the Honorable Rodney Gerald Forneret passed away on January 14, 2009, following a year-long battle with leukemia.
Judge Forneret enjoyed the love and friendship of a great number of family, friends, and colleagues. However, the real joys of his life were his wife, Phyllis, a retired speech therapist with the Los Angeles Unified School District; daughter Erica, a Yale University graduate and entrepreneur; and daughter Martine, also a Yale graduate and a third year student at Columbia University Law School.
Judge Forneret’s commitment to service, community, and family will remain an inspiration to all of those within the legal community and the community at large. The family of Judge Forneret thanks the Langston Bar Association for this wonderful honor and the community for sharing in this very special event.