Retired Stanislaus County judge Charles V. Stone dies at 84

Bee Staff ReportsDecember 31, 2013 

TAKE A KID FISHING DAY 5/17/98

In May 1998, Judge Charles Stone leads the way to lunch on Take a Kid Fishing Day at Lake Don Pedro.

TED BENSON 5/16/98 — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

Retired Superior Court Judge Charles V. Stone has died following complications from open heart surgery. He was 84.

Judge Stone had been recuperating from the surgery, and the downturn was unexpected, said his wife, Patty Stone. He died Friday after several weeks hospitalized in intensive care, she said.

Services will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Franklin & Downs McHenry Chapel, she said.

“I’m very saddened. Charlie was a prince of a man, a great judge, very supportive of staff,” said Mike Tozzi, retired executive officer of Stanislaus Superior Court.

“He could pick a jury faster than most judges, and he was very proud of that. He was one of the more respected judges we’ve had in a long time,” Tozzi said.

Retired Superior Court Judge John Whiteside called Judge Stone a hardworking jurist. “I knew him way back in the day as a public defender. I enjoyed appearing before him as a lawyer. I enjoyed working with him as a judge,” Whiteside said.

He recalled that Judge Stone used to dim the lights around the bench. “It was a little like walking into ‘The Twilight Zone’ because lights at the rear of the courtroom were lowered,” he said.

“He was a very astute, very dedicated, hardworking member of the bench for a lot of years. He was a very hardworking member of the community as well,” said retired Superior Court Judge Hugh Rose III. Rose said Judge Stone served on the bench in retirement, working up until a year or so ago.

“He was my chief deputy in the district attorney’s office,” Rose recalled. “He had a good mind. Lawyers liked him.”

Judge Stone sentenced the first Stanislaus County defendant under California’s “three strikes” law in August 1994. In his 20th appearance before a judge, Robert Samuel Smith, 48, was convicted of stealing a $600 tool set from Sears Roebuck & Co. and sentenced to 28 years to life in prison.

“Our hands were pretty well tied under three strikes,” Whiteside said, until a later Supreme Court ruling giving judges more leeway.

Judge Stone retired in September 1995 after 20 years on the bench. He first passed the bar in 1957 after graduating from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and practiced as a Stanislaus County deputy district attorney as well as a deputy public defender.

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