On Mon., Dec. 3, Hon. Armand Arabian, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court, will give a talk on his book, From Gravel to Gavel, at the dinner meeting of the St. James Armenian Church Men’s Club.
Prior to becoming one of the most notable judges of the last 50 years in California, Judge Armand Arabian was a driving force in organizing the California Armenian community behind Governor, and then President, Ronald Reagan, as well as Attorney General, and then Governor, George Deukmejian. Arabian is an electrifying speaker, provocative and incisive in his commentary on California and national legal and political issues of particular importance to Armenian-Americans. Sharp-witted and articulate, he is particularly adept at handling questions from the audience. He promises to be one of this season’s most notable speakers at the St James Men’s Club.
Arabian was the first-born son of Armenian immigrants who had come to America after surviving the genocide of 1915, and was raised in New York. He completed his undergraduate studies at Boston University’s College of Business Administration, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree. Then, as an ROTC distinguished military graduate, he was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant and served two years at Fort Benning, Ga. Elevated to first lieutenant, he served as a company commander and graduated from Airborne, Jumpmaster, and Pathfinder schools. Arabian returned to Massachusetts in 1958 and entered Boston University’s School of Law, where in 1961 he received a juris doctor degree and was elected president of his class.
He then traveled west, becoming a deputy district attorney of Los Angeles County, and an attorney in private practice (1963-72). In 1970, he received an LLM degree from the University of Southern California.
In 1972, then-Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him judge of the Municipal Court and in 1973, to the Superior Court. In 1983, Governor George Deukmejian appointed him as an associate justice of the Court of Appeal, and in 1990 as the 105th associate justice of the Supreme Court. He authored 104 majority opinions and retired in 1996.
Arabian then became president of ARMS Providers, Inc., engaged in alternative dispute resolution, conducting arbitration and mediation in all areas of law. He was appointed trustee of the Albert Einstein Correspondence Trust and supervised an international auction of his private papers.
His honors and accolades are extensive, and include the 2011 Valley Community Legal Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009 Leaders of Character Award, Americanism Educational League “Spirit Award,” 2006 Fernando Award, 2005 Women of Los Angeles Highlight Award, 2005 Los Angeles Magazine “Super Lawyer,” 2004 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, 2004 “St. Gregory the Illuminator” Medal of Honor by His Holiness Karekin II, 2003 Albert Einstein Gold Medal of Honor, and 2003 Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. In 2006, Arabian was named “Who’s Who in the World.” In 1992, he was named “Who’s Who in American Law.” He holds an honorary doctor of laws degrees from Pepperdine University School of Law and Southwestern University School of Law, and is a “Pappas Distinguished Scholar” from Boston University School of Law.
Organizations have also named awards in his honor: Project Sister, an anti-rape support group, first presented the “Justice Armand Arabian Healing the Heart” award in 2002 to those persons devoted to giving hope and dignity to victims of sexual assault; the San Fernando Valley Bar Association dedicated the Justice Armand Arabian Attorneys’ Research and Communication Centers in Van Nuys and San Fernando Courthouses, both in 1999; the San Fernando Valley Bar Association awards the “Armand Arabian Law and Media” award; Pepperdine Law School’s Fall Moot Court Competition is named the “Armand Arabian Advocacy Tournament”; and since 1999, the “Armand Arabian Leaders in Public Service Award” has been presented by the Encino Chamber of Commerce, where Arabian serves as honorary attorney general. In 1993, he became the only recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the San Fernando Valley Bar Association for “Dispensing Justice Tempered with Mercy.”
In 2003, he provided funding for the restoration of the 6th-century monastery of St. Gayane in Armenia. (She was the Mother Superior of nuns who protected them against sexual assault. St. Gayane and 26 others were tortured and killed for their resistance and faith.) In 2005, the Justice Armand Arabian Judicial Reception Hall was dedicated at the Constitutional Court in Yerevan. Arabian donated this modern, fully equipped facility that serves all visitors in the nation’s highest court. In 2006, the County Board of Supervisors dedicated the Justice Armand Arabian Reception Hall at the Chatsworth Superior Court Building.
Arabian also holds an extensive catalogue of published writings. Perhaps his most lasting legacy to our state and to our nation comes in the area of sexual assault reform. As a trial judge in 1973, Arabian initiated a new mindset in the courtroom when he refused to instruct a jury that a rape is a charge easy to make and difficult to defend. In 1975, this decision was upheld by a unanimous California Supreme Court.
He completed a law review article, “The Sexual Assault Counselor-Victim Privilege: Jurisdictional Delay into an Unclaimed Sanctuary,” in Pepperdine Law Review volume 37 (2009), encouraging the remaining states to provide this protection.
From Gravel to Gavel chronicles his life and his Armenian background.
The social hour starts with mezza at 6:15 p.m. following by a complete losh kebab and kheyma at 7 p.m., for $12 per person. The dinner meeting is held at the St. James Armenian Church Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center, Keljik Hall, 465 Mount Auburn St. in Watertown. Ladies are welcome.