Charles Alexander Legge Obituary

August 24, 1930 – December 8, 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of the Honorable Charles A. Legge (ret.), district court judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

District Judge Charles A. Legge (ret.) died December 8, 2023, surrounded by his loving wife of 71 years and his three children. He was 93.

Born in 1930 in San Francisco, Judge Legge lived his entire life in the Bay Area. He graduated from Piedmont High in 1948 and attended Stanford University graduating with an A.B. in 1952 and a J.D. in 1954. He was an editor of the Stanford Law Review.

In 1948, Judge Legge met his future wife, Janice, while traveling with their families to Hawaii aboard the ocean liner SS Lurline and they married in 1952. After sitting for the California Bar Exam in 1954, Judge Legge served in the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corp until 1956. He then joined the San Francisco law firm Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon where he was an accomplished trial lawyer for over 30 years and served as the firm’s managing partner. As a lawyer, Judge Legge argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1980.

Judge Legge was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and said serving as a judge was “the best job in the world.” He was well respected by lawyers appearing before him who described him as exceptionally bright and extraordinarily fair. Judge Legge enjoyed working with and mentoring his law clerks, interns and court staff. He handled many important cases, worked tirelessly to resolve his busy docket, and performed numerous marriages and naturalization ceremonies. He and his wife visited the White House at the invitations of presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush. Judge Legge was a devoted public servant for over 17 years until his retirement from the bench in 2001.

“Chuck Legge exemplified all the qualities one looks for in a jurist—an abiding commitment to the law, an unwavering sense of fairness to all who appeared before him, and an exceptional intelligence coupled with a good measure of common sense,” said Senior Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court of Northern California. “On top of all that he was a kind and thoughtful colleague. In short, we’ve lost a terrific guy.”

Following his retirement, Judge Legge joined JAMS: Mediation, Arbitration and ADR Services in San Francisco and was a sought-after mediator and arbitrator until his retirement in 2013. He was named among the top ten most popular arbitrators in the Bay Area. Upon his retirement from JAMS, Judge Legge served the public again as a grand juror for the Superior Court of Contra Costa County.

Judge Legge and Janice were season ticket holders to the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera. He was a longtime member of the Bohemian Club and of Thalia Camp. He was an avid reader and sometimes a writer of poetry and prose. He enjoyed gardening, tennis, sailing and visiting Lake Tahoe, Pajaro Dunes and Sonoma. The couple traveled the world together with family and friends.

Judge Legge is survived by his loving wife Janice; his proud and grateful children, Jeff, Nancy and Laura, their families; and other extended family.