Louis N. Desmond, a lawyer who represented the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for many years, died last Friday of heart failure, his family said. He was 85.
Mr. Desmond, who came from a family of well-known lawyers, made his name as a judge, prosecutor and successful attorney for more than 50 years. He represented clients in high-profile cases, including families of victims in the 1972 plane crash at Farrell's Ice Cream shop and the 1986 Sacramento County floods.
An expert in canon law, he also served for more than 25 years as general counsel for the Catholic Diocese. Besides other legal matters, he represented the diocese in cases alleging sexual misconduct by priests. In 1992, he successfully defended church officials from financial liability in the case of a priest who admitted engaging in sex with three female parishioners in Orland.
"He guided us very professionally in things that needed to be handled legally," former Bishop Francis Quinn said. "He was someone who had great love for the church."
A Sacramento native, Mr. Desmond was born in 1926 to Edna and Earl Desmond and graduated from Christian Brothers High School. His father was a Sacramento assemblyman and state senator who co-founded Desmond & Miller law firm in 1938. His brother Richard also practiced law as an eminent domain expert.
Louis Desmond played football and graduated from Saint Mary's College in Moraga in 1949 after serving as a Navy radioman. He graduated from McGeorge Law School and became a lawyer in 1954.
He worked as a Sacramento County deputy district attorney and served from 1955 to 1960 as judge of the South Sacramento Judicial District. He practiced law at Melvin & Desmond and later was a partner at his father's law firm now Desmond, Nolan, Livaich & Cunningham until he retired in the 1990s.
Active in Republican politics, he ran unsuccessfully in 1958 to succeed his father a Democrat in the state Senate. He held leadership positions in professional and civic groups, including the California Trial Lawyers Association and South Sacramento Lions Club. He was a co-owner of the historic California Fruit Building, one of Sacramento's first skyscrapers, at Fourth and J streets.
Mr. Desmond was married for 60 years and had four children with his wife, Gerry. He was an avid golfer and member of Del Paso Country Club.
A devout Catholic, he prayed the rosary every night and supported Catholic charities. In recognition of his service to the church, he was appointed a papal knight of the Order of St. Gregory.
He was remembered as a charming and cheerful man who enjoyed singing, telling jokes and talking politics.
"He always had a good Irish joke always," said his daughter Gemma Konovaloff. "He was telling them until the end."