San Diego judge, actor and author Norbert Ehrenfreund dies

Longtime San Diego Superior Court Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund, who was also an accomplished actor and published author, died recently at his La Jolla home. He was 95.

His daughter, Laurel Ehrenfreund, said the judge died on Dec. 23 after having suffered a stroke about a month earlier. 

Ehrenfreund was appointed to the bench in 1975 during Gov. Jerry Brown’s first stint as the state’s chief executive. Although the judge retired from the Superior Court in 1995, he remained active in the law and in pursuing his other interests.

He continued to serve as a judge on assignment for the Superior Courts in San Diego and Sacramento. He also developed and presented to numerous groups a presentation on the Holocaust, done in conjunction with a survivor. And he gave lectures and poetry readings in retirement homes, his daughter said.

Ehrenfruend also was a founding member of Defenders Inc., a private nonprofit firm that defended the indigent accused of crimes.

He worked many assignments while on the bench including an influential period in Family Court, where he served for many years. San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Jeffrey Barton said in a memo announcing his death that Ehrenfreund was “a revered family law judge to both the bench and the bar.” 

After his retirement, the local Superior Court judges began giving out an annual award in his honor — the Norby Award — to the family-law lawyer of the year.

He also was the…

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