Justice Kaufman Has Colon Surgery for Removal of Malignant Growth

Times Staff Writer

State Supreme Court Justice Marcus M. Kaufman underwent successful surgery Friday for removal of a malignant growth from his colon--the same illness suffered recently by Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas.

Doctors who performed the surgery said that Kaufman, 58, was expected to make a “full and complete recovery,” a spokeswoman for the court said.

Kaufman, a former state appeal court justice named to the high court in February by Gov. George Deukmejian, was reported resting comfortably. He is expected to recuperate and work on court business at his home in San Francisco after release from an undisclosed hospital.


The justice will not be present when the court holds verbal arguments next week in Sacramento on 10 cases, six of them involving the death penalty.

Kaufman, however, will be able to hear audio tapes of the arguments and can join in the subsequent court deliberations and participate in decisions with the agreement of the lawyers in those cases. His presence at the court is not required for participation in decisions in cases he already has heard.

The justice is expected to return to his chambers at the court here in December, a statement issued by the court said. At his request, no further details of the operation or his recovery will be released until Kaufman has left the hospital, Lynn Holton, the court’s spokeswoman, said.

Virtually the same malady struck the 60-year-old Lucas this summer. The chief justice was operated on July 22 at Stanford University Hospital for removal of a cancerous polyp, one inch in diameter, from the colon.

Surgeons pronounced the operation successful, saying they expected Lucas to recover. Lucas also recuperated at home, working on court business, and returned to his chambers about six weeks later. Since then, he has maintained a full schedule as chief justice.

Before the operation, Kaufman told associates at the court he expected to be away five to eight weeks, a court staff member said.


Justice Stanley Mosk, the court’s senior member, said that Kaufman had informed him Thursday of the planned operation and that there was “no indication” Kaufman believed the illness was life-threatening.

Holton, who spoke Friday to Kaufman’s wife, Eileen, said that Mrs. Kaufman reported that “the news was good” after the operation and “there had been no spread” of the cancer beyond the polyp that was removed.

Kaufman first learned of his condition Oct. 23 during a medical examination, Holton said.

Like Justices John A. Arguelles and David N. Eagleson, the two other justices named by Deukmejian to the court this year to succeed former Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and two other court members defeated in the 1986 fall election, Kaufman has worked long hours at the court to acquaint himself with scores of pending cases.

In the past, Kaufman has suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. However, in an interview with The Times in late August, he said both those problems were “under control.”

Despite his heavy court workload, Kaufman said that he has tried to exercise regularly by walking and playing tennis. “I feel better now than I have for 20 years,” he said.

A 1956 graduate of USC law school, Kaufman clerked for state Supreme Court Justice Roger Traynor, returned to teach at USC and in 1958 began practicing law in San Bernardino.


In 1969, he was appointed to the state Court of Appeal in San Bernardino by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and served on that court until elevated this year by Deukmejian. Kaufman assumed his new post with a reputation as a scholarly and conservative jurist.

On Thursday, in his first major opinion, Kaufman wrote for the court majority in its 4-3 ruling upholding the constitutionality of police roadblocks to catch drunk drivers.