OBITUARY

James Harrison Libbey

February 9, 1942February 13, 2021

James Harrison Libbey was born on February 9, 1942 and passed away on February 13, 2021 and is under the care of Brentwood Funeral Home.

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Memories

James Harrison Libbey

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Mary McNeill

February 25, 2021

My most memorable moments in court over the years have been moments in Judge Libbey’s court rooms. Initially terrified by his curmudgeonly demeanor, I came to respect and trust his ability to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff in a case. - Beyond his sound decisions, his insightful (and occasionally hysterical) characterizations of parties or events in a case will live on in the pages of appellate opinions. After the mother in a move-away case testified that she wrote her master’s thesis on “The Effect of Prayer on Seedlings” and wanted to move the parties’ very young child across country so that she could teach parapsychology at a junior college in Florida, Judge Libbey’s conclusion that the mother had "questionable decision making ability" and "a flaky and at times almost delusional quality in her thinking” was spot on. The Court of Appeal liked his turn of phrase as well, quoting it when affirming his decision.... We were fortunate to have Judge Libbey serve in family law for so many years. His breadth of family law knowledge, wit, dedication to doing the right thing, and institutional memory are sorely missed.

Bill Whiting

February 23, 2021

Jim (Judge) Libbey and I shared many experiences together--most of them in the court room. He was insightful, practical, wise and, perhaps most importantly, he maintained his sense of humor and perspective regardless of the circumstance. I shall miss the opportunities to reminisce with Jim about the unusual facts and issues that arose in family law cases. He was one of a kind.

Josanna Berkow

February 19, 2021

I worked with Jim for 20 years on the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench. We often talked about our differences in judicial philosophy primarily around judicial involvement in settlement conferences but always found common ground sharing stories about the people who appeared before us, kids, dogs and sailing. I remember how grateful Nancy was when Jim freed up storage space by giving us his huge boat dock bumpers. Jim was the first to describe himself as “curmudgeonly” but I don’t think so. Right below the gruffness was a nice guy always trying to do the right thing. It was a privilege to serve with him.

Stuart Lord

February 19, 2021

Jim was smart, funny, sweet, and just curmudgeonly enough. My heart goes out to all of you. We've lost a good man.