By Associated Press - Sunday, July 12, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Retired federal judge Lawrence K. Karlton, whose written legal opinions on topics ranging from mental health care for inmates to the environment stand as significant influences on key issues, died in Northern California. He was 80.

Karlton died Saturday at his home in Sacramento from a heart valve problem he had dealt with for several years, the Sacramento Bee reported ( ).

Karlton retired from the federal court for the Eastern District of California at the end of September.

His best-known case is probably a long-running and still ongoing battle to improve treatment of California’s mentally ill prison inmates.

Karlton left private practice in 1976 when then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the Sacramento Superior Court. He was nominated for the Eastern District bench by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed in 1979.

William B. Shubb, the longest-serving federal judge sitting on the Sacramento-based Eastern District bench, said Sunday that Karlton’s dedication to the law was contagious.

“I first witnessed his passion when he and I were opposing counsel on a case in federal court,” Shubb recalled. “Back then, it was a passion for his client’s cause. He instilled it in everybody that worked with him, other judges and his law clerks particularly.”

Karlton is survived by wife, Sue Karlton, and daughter, Emily Williams.

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