In Memoriam - Michael Gardina
Criminal defense attorney Michael R. Gardina passed away on March 25 at the age of 61 following a short illness. IDP Administrator Randall Dickow described Gardina’s passing as “A loss not only to the defense bar and his friends, colleagues and family, but a loss to the people of Kern County, those that he represented with such energy and dedication.” Gardina is survived by his wife, Robyn; daughter, Kim; son, Danny; and mother, Carmen.
Michael Gardina’s son, Danny, eulogized his father as a strong family man who put his family first and supported them in all their endeavors. He supported the arts and never discouraged his children either from pursuing careers in writing and the theatre, although he knew they were not guaranteed to be lucrative careers. A lifelong musician, Gardina’s original goal was to be a rock star. While pursuing that dream, he worked as a short-order cook and he went to barber’s college. Although he ultimately became an attorney, he wrote screenplays in his spare time. He was honored with several awards for his screenplays.
Michael Gardina served on the Board of Directors of the KCBA Criminal Defense Section, including a term as Vice President. He also served on the IDP Qualifications Committee.
Judge Jerold Turner was a law school classmate of Michael Gardina in the 1970s. He described Gardina’s passing as “a deep personal loss for me.” Turner described Gardina as “a remarkable attorney, always very well prepared in the courtroom.”
The celebration of Michael Gardina’s life was held on April 14 at The Belltower Club. Friends, family, and colleagues spoke of Gardina’s dedication to the law and to his clients. Several of his past clients or their family members were present – a testament to how much he was appreciated. H.A. “Beto” Sala described Gardina as an attorney who took the worst of the worst cases. He defended the defenseless and those charged with the most heinous of crimes, and he defended them well.
Michael Gardina had been a member of the KCBA Indigent Defense Panel since its inception in 1996. Randall Dickow said it will be difficult to replace Gardina on the panel. “Although we will have to find an attorney to fill his spot, I don’t think we will ever fill his shoes.” Dickow said his loss was more than professional; he lost a friend. He and Gardina had many conversations over the years that were unrelated to the law. They spoke about the arts, politics – everything, including ethics. Dickow explained, “Mike always did what was right, ethical, and in the best interest of his clients.”
Robyn Gardina expressed her appreciation to all of her husband’s friends and colleagues who supported the family with their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
This article was published in the June, 2011 issue of the Res Ipsa Loquitur.