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In Memoriam - Kenneth T. Holland
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Kenneth T. Holland

On September 16, 2010, the lawyers and staff of KDG lost a friend. Kenneth A. Holland, a partner at the firm, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a short, but courageous battle with cancer.

Ken Holland was one of my best friends. His office is two doors down from mine, and I still look in his door as if I expect to see him sitting there. I miss him walking into my office, slouching in one of my side chairs and worrying. He hated it when I laughed. But with “Dark Cloud,” all you could do was laugh.

Friends christened Ken “Dark Cloud” several years ago. With Ken, the glass wasn’t just half-empty it was absolutely empty! Ken always watched for, considered, and plotted against the worst possible outcome. Unlike many litigators who fall in love with their cases and their clients’ causes, Ken always questioned the case and the cause. He expected the worst, prepared for it, and was able to defl ect it or meet it as strategy dictated. His pessimism made him a great lawyer.

When Ken would accompany any of us to lunch or court, the other person usually drove. Ken rarely drove. Ken and cars didn’t get along. Ken and directions didn’t get along, either. Once, Ken and I were meeting Bill Bruce for lunch at one of the Mexican restaurants on Oak Street. Ken kept asking me if I was going the right way when I took Chester Lane to Oak Street.

Ken loved animals and one of his earliest jobs was for a veterinarian. He told me that he seriously considered becoming a vet, but he loved critters too much to cause them any pain. Ken had a soft spot for my miniature dachshund, Gretel, and she adored him. When she visited the office, Gretel always spent some quality time in her buddy’s lap.

Ken had a stellar career. He clerked for the Honorable John F. Killkenny, Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He began his career as an Honors
Program Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Appellate Section in Washington DC.

After a couple of years at “the DOJ,” Ken joined Musick, Peeler & Garrett, LLP in Los Angeles, where he reduced his appellate caseload and focused on civil litigation. He made his name in complex civil litigation, including property tax litigation for some pretty big names in LA. Among his several published cases was J. Paul Getty Museum vs. County of Los Angeles (1980) 148 Cal.App.3d 600. It remains a leading case on the welfare exemption under property tax law.

Ken and Barbara decided they wanted to raise their daughter, Katie, in the quiet of central California rather than the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Ken resigned his partnership at Musick in 1989, and they moved to Barb’s hometown of Shafter. Ken came to KDG in 2000, after practicing with Ken Byrum for 10 years.

Ken received his BA, cum laude, from UCLA in 1969, and a certificate of completion from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education in 1970. Ken had a hard time deciding what to do: He had a teaching job lined up but he applied for law school, too. He took the path to the University of Notre Dame, from which he received his J.D. in 1973. He was admitted that year to the State Bar of California, and in 1981, he was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the last couple of years, my focus on appeals had helped to renew Ken’s interest in appeals. He was tired of the civil litigation rat race and wanted to return to the dignity inherent in appellate practice. He and I had plans for the appellate practice at KDG. I will carry on and I will miss him.

by Catherine Bennett, Esq.
This article was featured in the November 2010 edition of the Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The obituary printed in the Bakersfield Californian can be found here. Another tribute can be found here.
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