About Warren J. Ferguson


Judge Warren J. Ferguson was born October 31, 1920 in Eureka, Nevada.  In 1938, he enrolled at the University of Nevada in Reno where, as a clarinetist, he served as Concert Master and President of the University Band.   He was also elected to Phi Kappa Phi.  Upon graduation in 1942, he joined the United States Army.  He served in North Africa and Italy, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant.   He received the Bronze Star Medal and was honorably discharged in 1945.

In 1946, Judge Ferguson moved to Los Angeles and attended law school at the University of Southern California on the G.I. Bill.  He married Laura Keyes Ferguson during his last year in law school.  He and his wife decided on Fullerton as the place to live, work and raise a family.  In January of 1950, he established his law practice there, not knowing a person in town.  Gradually his practice flourished.  In 1951, he formed a partnership with James F. Judge who is now a retired superior court judge.  In 1953 Judge Ferguson assisted in the incorporation of Buena Park. He subsequently became city attorney for Placentia, Baldwin Park, Santa Fe Springs, La Puente and Walnut, all of which provided him with a large amount of litigation.    

The Judge and his wife had four children, Faye, Jack, Teresa and Peter.  His practice kept him away from home, and he realized that his family needed him more than his clients.  In 1959, a vacancy occurred in the Anaheim‑Fullerton Municipal Court, and he applied to Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown for the appointment which he received.  Judge Ferguson notes, "that appointment was not particularly difficult to obtain.  I am a democrat, Governor Brown was a democrat, and there were not many lawyers in Orange County who were democrats."  In addition, he had the support of the mayors of the six cities that he represented.

His first courtroom and chambers were in the American Legion Hall in Anaheim and then a few months later he moved to an office building next to the Municipal Court. The office-building courtroom was too small for a jury box so for two years, he conducted non‑jury trials.  In 1961, four new positions were created in the Superior Court and the Judge was again appointed by Governor Brown.  His first Superior Court courtroom and chambers were in the Episcopal Church near the courthouse.   After a year, four full‑size courtrooms and chambers were built in the former Assembly of God Church.  Two years later he was assigned as the Juvenile Court Judge at the Juvenile Hall on Chapman Avenue near the County Hospital.  After two years in Juvenile Court, the Judge returned to the Superior Court. 

In 1964, Congress passed an amendment of the Civil Rights laws and new federal district court judgeships were created.  Ferguson applied for one of the positions and Governor Brown convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint him as the first District Judge for the newly created Central District of California.  For 13 years, Judge Ferguson commuted the Santa Ana Freeway from Fullerton to Los Angeles. 

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ferguson to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appointment permitted him to establish his chambers in Santa Ana.  Judge Ferguson is now a Senior Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  A list of other activities and awards of which he is most proud include the following: recipient of the Franklin G. West award; one of the founders of Amicus Publico; Board Member of the Orange County Bar Association; Doctor of Law degrees from Western State University College of Law and San Fernando Valley College of Law; honored by Northeastern University College of Law for his contributions to law and social justice; honored by USC and the Orange County Legion Lex Board of Directors for dedicated service to the Orange County legal community, a resolution of the Assembly of the California Legislature for his record of accomplishments; a recognition by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for service to the poor and elderly; the establishment by his former law clerks and friends of the annual Warren J. Ferguson award for the Best Essay on Social Justice at the USC's Law School.

For all of that, and more, this Inn of Court proudly serves as his namesake.