Longtime Sacramento lawyer Clyde Blackmon has died
Sacramento attorney Clyde Blackmon, who has spent a 50-year career defending clients accused of a variety of crimes ranging from Ponzi schemes to immigration fraud and death penalty cases, died on November 26 at his home in Sacramento. He was 86 years old.
“After celebrating our best Thanksgiving ever, he waited until the next evening and then passed away,” said Karen Cornell-Blackmon, his wife of over 20 years.
Blackmon was known as a versatile lawyer who could handle everything from cases of driving under the influence to accusations of political corruption, and who ended up spending more time working for clients for free than he billed for his services. declared friends.
“I’ve never met a lawyer – and I’ve worked with a lot of great lawyers – but I’ve never met a lawyer who cared more about his clients and was more deeply committed to his clients than Clyde. Blackmon was not, ”the US District said. Judge Dale Drozd, who was Blackmon’s partner for 12 years. “He recognized that he and everyone who worked with him were responsible for guiding these clients through what was possibly the most difficult time of their lives, and he took that responsibility very seriously.”
Drozd recalled Blackmon as a lover of fine art, Constitution, poetry, and athletics, and as a lawyer with legal victories many people had never heard of.
“A lot of his best wins, the biggest wins, have come in cases where he got in early enough to convince a prosecutor never to lay charges, and of course you can’t talk about it because they don’t. have never seen the light of day, ”the judge said. “But it was really effective if he could jump into a parallel investigation early enough to convince a prosecutor that they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.”
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, Chief Justice for the Eastern District of California, based in Sacramento, wrote in an email to The Sacramento Bee that “when Clyde Blackmon appeared in my courtroom, the Standards of everyone have gone up a notch “.
“His lanky, relaxed posture and low-key demeanor might surprise the uninitiated,” Mueller wrote. “But it didn’t take long to realize that he knew exactly what he was doing, fully respecting the institution of the tribunal and going to the mat with vigor and responsibility for his client.
“I always looked forward to seeing him, no matter what topic he appeared on. The quality of his advocacy and dedication to the rule of law – the rule of just law – has left an indelible mark on the roles of our court. ”
Malcolm Segal, a former legal partner, recounted Blackmon’s unusual habit of leaning against the back wall of state court judges’ chambers when a judge summons attorneys with cases on the schedule.
“He wouldn’t say a word until the judge addressed him,” Segal said. “He said being a lawyer was not a beaver eager to get the judge’s attention, but rather to understand how things were that day and find a way to do your best for your client. . “
Clyde M. Blackmon was born July 14, 1935 in Coalinga and graduated from Placer High School before serving in the Marines for four years. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1961 and received his law degree from Cal in 1964 before moving to Sacramento.
Segal, a lawyer for 50 years, said when he arrived in Sacramento as a federal prosecutor, he learned that Blackmon was considered one of the best lawyers in town.
“I quickly learned that judges respected him, lawyers trusted him, and his clients loved him,” Segal said. “When I had the opportunity to be his partner half a dozen years later, I found out why everyone was so attached to him.
“He was one of the most decent and caring people in the practice of law I have ever met, and almost every day I learned something from him not just about being a lawyer, but also about being a good person. “
Segal remembers returning from lunch one day when Blackmon stepped out into traffic on J Street to cross and hand a few dollars to a man sitting on the sidewalk.
“He told me at the time, ‘I don’t care what this guy does with the money, but I do care that he needs it,” ”Segal said.
In a 2011 case, Blackmon represented the town of Isleton in the Delta, which had been targeted by the Sacramento County grand jury for an investigation into the city’s efforts to bring a private marijuana grow company to for medical purposes in town.
No charges were laid in this investigation, which at one point included the grand jury summoning the entire city government to court and ended with the city abandoning the business.
He represented Roni Deutch, the self-proclaimed “tax lady” whose advertisements made her a household name, in a contempt of court case. And, at one point, Blackmon represented former Army officer Harrison Jack, who was charged – and later exonerated – of charges he had plotted with others to overthrow the government of Laos.
Blackmon fought unsuccessfully to save Darrell Rich, the Shasta County serial killer known as Hilltop Rapist, from being executed in 2000 at San Quentin State Prison.
And, after a long fight, he won a bogus case filed against Orange County Tory Republican MP John Lewis, who was accused in 1986 of endorsing a campaign direct mail using the unauthorized signature of the ‘Former President Ronald Reagan.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s counterfeiting law at the time did not cover political documents.
“John Lewis was a Tory Republican MP,” Drozd said. “It was obviously not Clyde’s policy, but none of it mattered. John Lewis and Clyde both admitted that they worked really well together because the only thing that mattered to Clyde was providing the best defense.
Besides his wife, Karen, Blackmon is survived by his brother Kenneth; the sons Griffith and Craig; step-sons Scott and Adam McChane; and three grandchildren.
Services for Blackmon will take place next year, his wife said.
“We’re going to be celebrating life in the spring, probably at Curtis Park,” she said Tuesday.
This story was originally published 8 December 2021 5:00 a.m.