Icing the Decision
William Bedsworth [LibArts ’68] has ruled in the courtroom and the hockey rink, and he has never lost his sense of humor.
By Christelyn D. Karazin ’99
To get into the mind of the Hon. William Bedsworth ’68, you must suspend any stereotypes you’ve ever had about judges. For starters, he’s a comedian, and he actually likes getting beer thrown at him after he pronounces judgment (we’ll explain later).
Pragmatic and dispassionate while on his day job at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Bedsworth keeps things light at least once a month when writing “A Criminal Waste of Space,” his nationally syndicated humor column published in legal publications (www.acriminalwasteofspace.com). He started the column nearly three decades ago because, he admits, there isn’t a lot of humor in presiding over criminal cases. “I get it out of my system, and that way I don’t have to write funny opinions.”
The success of his long-running column may be due in part to Bedsworth’s three favorite undergraduate teachers — Robert Taylor, S.J., Frank Carothers and Richard Kocher, all in Loyola’s Department of English — and the talent of Jim Murray, the late Los Angeles Times sports writer. Taylor, who taught freshman English, started each class discussing his students’ mandatory reading of the sports column, which was fine by Bedsworth because he has long been a self-proclaimed “sports degenerate.” He still uses the writing tricks he learned from Taylor and Murray in everything he writes — from his column and opinions to legal briefs and two books.
While most sports fans are comfortable sitting on the sidelines or quarterbacking from the armchair, Bedsworth isn’t. When he heard that Orange County was bringing a professional hockey team to the area, he offered his services as a goal judge. That step netted him 15 years as the guy who turned on the red light signifying a goal scored. He even earned a Stanley Cup ring for presiding over four Stanley Cup championships. “I love the game, but 15 years was enough,” he recalls. “I had beer thrown on me in San Jose and a water bottle thrown at me by a hall-of-famer. God, it was fun!”
As for his real job, this son of a casket maker hasn’t done too shabbily. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s law school, he joined the Orange County District Attorney’s Office where he served as a court line deputy, a felony trial deputy, an appellate attorney, and then as managing attorney in charge of the appellate division of that office. He won an open seat on the Orange County Superior Court in 1986 and was re-elected six years later. In 1997, then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Bedsworth to the California State Court of Appeal. But, ironically, life as a civil servant wasn’t his initial goal.
“I went [to Loyola] thinking I was going to get my college education, go to law school and make a ton of money,” Bedsworth says. But his experiences at Loyola and his teachers changed him. “Finding out how happy people could be without making a ton of money kind of changed my life. I ended up in a career of public service. I don’t think it was a coincidence.”
The Loyolan, student government, varsity baseball, El Playano (student literary magazine)
Favorite Hockey Players
The Secret to Finding Humor in the Field of Law
“Law, like life, is a parade: You’ll enjoy it more if you ignore the floats and concentrate on the people.”