U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell has died at the age of 52, it was announced Tuesday.
O’Connell died Sunday, Central District of California Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips announced. O’Connell collapsed on Friday while giving a speech at a California State Bar Women’s program, according to news reports that also indicated she had previously suffered a brain hemorrhage that temporarily left her in a coma.
Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, where the Ventura, California-born O’Connell earned a bachelor’s degree in 1986, offered “thoughts and prayers” to O’Connell in a message issued on Twitter on Sept. 22.
The legal newspaper Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported a day earlier that O’Connell was in a coma and had been for days, but was in stable condition.
After graduating from UCLA, O’Connell earned her law degree in 1990 from Pepperdine University School of Law, from which she graduated magna cum laude.
She then joined law firm of Morrison & Foerster, where she was employed from 1990 until 1995, prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, where she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division until 2005.
O’Connell was appointed as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
O’Connell was appointed as a federal judge by then-President Barack Obama on Nov. 14, 2012, who said she had shown the “talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness” for the position who would be a valuable addition to the court.
O’Connell was confirmed by the Senate by a 92-0 vote on April 15, 2013.
O’Connell taught at Loyola Law School, Pepperdine University School of Law and the B.E. Witkin Judicial College and served on the Board of Directors of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.
“Mere words are inadequate to express the depth of our loss,” Phillips said. “Judge O’Connell justly earned her reputation as a brilliant and exceptionally hard working judge. Those who appeared before her appreciated her wisdom and fairness, as well as her innovative use of technology in the courtroom.
Her judicial colleagues and all members of the court family were vastly enriched by her generosity, energy and dedication to justice. She made an indelible mark on our court, and we mourn our friend and colleague.”
Flags outside the district’s courthouses will be flown at half-staff in O’Connor’s honor.