Judge and Historian Earned His Own Place in Malibu History
Malibu pioneer, historian, and justice of the peace John Merrick has died. He was 93.
"Honorable Judge John J. Merrick of Malibu passed away peacefully on the morning of July 31," the Merrick family wrote. "Born February 10, 1919 in New Haven, CT and raised in the Bronx, he was the first born son of Irish immigrants.
"During World War II as a commander of a tank destroyer unit, John was shipped out to Southern California after Pearl Harbor where his job was to protect the coastline from Manhattan Beach to Malibu. At the conclusion of the war, John elected to remain in California and make Malibu his home. He worked as a trust officer for Beverly Hills National Bank and as a comedy writer for the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy radio show.
"A graduate of Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles, John opened a private practice in Beverly Hills until 1964 when he was elected Judge of the Malibu Judicial District where he served on the Bench for 22 years.
Known as "The Law West of Topanga" during his judgeship, he participated in many famous cases, including signing of the search warrant for Charles Manson and subsequent trials of Manson Family members. His crowning achievement in Law was a stint on the California Appellate Court where he wrote several published legal opinions.
"As a Justice, John presided over many high profile wedding ceremonies. Malibu was his true love and he was one of Malibu's founding fathers. John started several charitable organizations throughout Malibu including the Optimist Club, Malibu Historical Society, Heart Association, Malibu Lagoon Museum, and the Township Council.
"With a keen interest in the history of Malibu from the Chumash to the Rindges, he wrote many books and was cited as the foremost historian of Malibu.
"John, a 66 year resident of Latigo Beach and Point Dume, was preceded in death by his wife Marge Merrick and is survived by his eight children: Shelly Merrick, Maria Merrick, Vicki Curran, John Merrick, Liz Klein, Robert Rowland, Patricia Howard, Brian Merrick, countless grandchildren and great grandchildren."
A memorial service is planned for noon on Aug. 25 at Elkins Auditorium on the campus of Pepperdine University.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that a donation be made to the "John Merrick Law Scholarship" at Pepperdine University School of Law.
The scholarship is awarded to students with an interest in public service in the tradition of the late Malibu jurist. Donations can be sent to Pepperdine School of Law, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263-4633; Attn: John Merrick Law Scholarship/Erin Herrera.