Division Five: Associate Justice Orville A. "Jack" Armstrong

Photo of Justice Orville A. ArmstrongOrville A. "Jack" Armstrong has served as an associate justice for the California Court of Appeal, Division Five of the Second District Court of Appeal since January 1993. He was nominated by Governor Wilson to fill the vacancy created when Associate Justice Roger Boren was elevated to Presiding Justice of Division Two. Jack was confirmed for the four years remaining on Justice Boren's term by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, composed of the Chief Justice of California, the Attorney General of California and the Presiding Justice of Division Three of the Second Appellate District. At the election on November 8, 1994, the voters elected Jack to the balance of Justice Boren's term. In November 1998, the voters elected Jack to a full term commencing January 3, 1999.

At the time of his nomination, Jack was serving as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Jack was born in Austin, Texas. He was named Orville after his father, but the popular radio show "Jack Armstrong the All American Boy" had everyone calling him "Jack."

Jack's family moved to Galena Park, a small community near Houston, and he graduated from Galena Park High School. While in high school, Jack played varsity football and basketball, and in the summer pitched on a city league baseball team - he had a fast ball and an uncontrolled curve that was so wild that he was falsely accused of intentionally throwing at batters.

At the age of 16, Jack enrolled at the University of Texas, with the intention of becoming an electrical engineer. At the age of 17, after determining that engineering was not his field, he interrupted his college education to join the U.S. Army Air Corp where he was trained as a radar technician. Upon his honorable discharge as a sergeant after three year service, he went to work for a company that manufactured ground controlled approach radar, teaching Air Force personnel in Okinawa how to use the equipment to guide B-29s home from their bombing runs in Korea to safe landings. The best part of this job was that he met his wife, Mary Dean, while there, and got married in the Philippines.

Returning to the University of Texas to complete his undergraduate work, he switched from engineering to business administration and sold insurance for a large fire insurance company on the side. Jack responded to a newspaper ad and managed to sell a large fire insurance policy to a very large public housing development - for two months this made him the leading fire insurance salesman in the state and the commission supplemented nicely the $75 per month he was receiving on the "GI Bill."

Jack decided to go into law after graduating from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Business degree with honors and a membership in Beta Gamma Sigma, a business school honor society. While visiting his wife's family here in Southern California, he applied for admission to the USC Law School, produced a transcript of his grades to the admissions officer and was accepted on the spot. He was a member of the Board of Editors, University of Southern California Law Review.

After he earned his law degree and was admitted to the Bar, he joined a Los Angeles firm headed by William P. Gray, who was then president of the State Bar of California. Following Bill's appointment as a United States District Judge, Jack joined Macdonald, Halstead & Laybourne as chairman of its litigation department. That firm merged into the world's largest law firm of Baker & McKenzie in 1988. Jack headed up Baker & McKenzie's litigation department in Los Angeles and served on the international firm's Policy Committee.

Jack was also admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and all federal District courts in California. He was invited to become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was listed as one of the best business litigation lawyers in the 1989-1990 edition of Naifeh and White's "The Best Lawyers in America." Jack also had an appellate practice. As an attorney, he argued cases before the Supreme Court of California and before the federal appellate Court of Appeals. As a justice of the Court of Appeal, he has twice served as Justice Pro Tempore for the California Supreme Court.

Throughout his legal career, Jack has been an active member of the State Bar of California and the L.A. County Bar Association. He was a member of the State Bar's Board of Governors for four years and was President in 1987-88. For the L.A. County Bar, he chaired the Economic Litigation Committee and served a term on the Board of Trustees. He has also been a delegate to the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a Director of the Ninth Circuit Historical Society, a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and President of the Chancery Club.

He served as a member of the following State Bar or Judicial Council committees: Special Committee to Survey and Evaluate the State Bar Offices of General Counsel and Trial Counsel; Subcommittee on Expediting the Disciplinary Process; State Bar - Judicial Council Joint Discovery Commission; Judicial Council Appellate Defense Oversight Committee; Ad Hoc Committee to study the relationship between the Board of Governors and the Committee of Bar Examiners; Judicial Council Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvements.

Jack and Mary Dean have three grown children now in business and professional careers following college graduation.

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