(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, has died in Northern California. He was 80.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Karlton died Saturday at his home in Sacramento from a heart valve problem he had dealt with for several years.
Karlton retired from the federal court for the Eastern District of California at the end of September.
Probably his best-known case is a long-running and still ongoing battle to bring treatment of California's mentally ill inmates into line with the Eighth Amendment ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment.
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.