Judge Jean E. Matusinka, 66, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and former deputy district attorney, died Monday of lung cancer at Torrance Memorial Hospital. Since 1990, she had been handling a civil calendar at the Torrance courthouse and was hearing cases until a week before her death.
Born in New York City, Matusinka graduated from Hunter College with a degree in history and earned her law degree at Brooklyn Law School in 1966. Admitted to the State Bar of California in 1970, she joined the district attorney's office in L.A. as a deputy district attorney. She specialized in sex crimes, child abuse and domestic violence cases. She was instrumental in forming the child abuse and domestic violence section and the sexual crimes program of the central trials division.
Matusinka was one of the prosecutors in the early days of the McMartin Pre-School molestation case in the mid-1980s.
She was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1985. One of her first jobs was presiding over the calendar in the downtown criminal courts building. As a judge handling criminal and civil cases, she gained a reputation for toughness, fairness and decisiveness.
She was also a clinical professor at the USC Keck School of Medicine's Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science.