H. Warren Knight, 83, a retired Orange County judge who in 1979 founded a private mediation and arbitration service in Santa Ana that has since expanded to offices across the country and to Canada and Europe, died Nov. 15 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach of complications from lung disease.
His death was announced by his company, which is now based in Irvine and known as JAMS the Resolution Experts.
Knight was an Orange County Superior Court judge looking forward to early retirement when he founded Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services Inc. The firm offered what was then an emerging concept called alternative dispute resolution, in which retired judges, for a fee, serve as third-party deciders in disputes between companies and individuals. Knight sought to provide a quicker settlement than what litigants could expect in a civil court case.
Within a decade of its founding, Knight's company had expanded to Los Angeles and San Diego. It later merged with a similar Washington-based mediation firm and opened offices in cities across the United States, as well as in Toronto and London. It has affiliates in Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Knight was born Oct. 16, 1929, in Charleston, W.Va., and received bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Virginia. He came to California while serving in the Marine Corps in the late 1950s.
He was a partner in a private legal practice in Santa Ana before being appointed to the Orange County Municipal Court in 1971 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. He was appointed by Reagan to the Orange County Superior Court in 1973 and served until his retirement from the bench in 1979.
Times staff reportsCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times