Dear Society of Fellows Members:
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the passing of the Honorable Steven L. Perk (Ret.). Judge Perk was the 2016 recipient of the PYOCBF Society of Fellows Distinguished Judicial Fellow Award, and has left an indelible mark on the Orange County legal landscape.
A former quarterback at the University of South Dakota and college football coach, Judge Perk graduated from Pepperdine School of Law in 1980 and worked as a law clerk for Judge Ronald Kreber’s former firm. He served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for almost 9 years, after which he worked in private practice with his good friend, Cliff Roberts. He returned to the OCDA’s Office for another short stint when in 1995, Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to the bench. In 2002, Judge Perk was assigned to the General Civil Panel and in 2011, only 9 years later, was appointed Supervising Judge of the General Civil Panel. As Supervising Judge, he simultaneously tackled both a pending financial crisis and an unprecedented backlog of over 2,000 unassigned cases which, under Judge Perk’s leadership, was whittled down to 500 cases in just 2 years. During the court-closure crisis, Judge Perk co-founded the Voluntary Settlement Conference Program (which moved cases to resolution on “dark” days) and adopted policies ensuring litigants answering “ready” for trial would be able to find a courtroom.
Judge Perk served as a judge on the Complex Civil Panel where he stepped down for health reasons in December 2016. At the time of his death, Judge Perk served as a neutral at Judicate West. Throughout his career as a jurist, Judge Perk earned a reputation as a no-nonsense trial judge who valued promptness, preparedness and professionalism. Whether hearing high-profile matters like the 4-month Lloyd Charton trial or the pleas of a pro se litigant, he allowed parties to make their case, delivered clear and fair decisions, and treated all with respect and civility. He was a fine judge and an exceptional human being who never lost his love for family, friends and sports. For lawyers and non-lawyers alike, Judge Perk will stand as one of Orange County’s finest models of integrity, hard work, honesty and fairness. He leaves behind a loving family and a legal community that deeply mourns his passing.
Daniel S. Robinson
PYOCBF Past President and Society of Fellows Chair
Robinson Calcagnie, Inc.