Judge Einhorn hangs up his robe

Einhorn served nearly two decades as judge

SAN DIEGO - In a tan suit and striped tie, Judge John Einhorn was relaxed, yet nostalgic as he reminisced about his nearly two decades presiding over some of San Diego's toughest cases.

"I'm going to miss it, but I know that it's time for me to move on," Einhorn said during an interview with 10News in his downtown courtroom. "I've never not worked."

Einhorn officially retires Aug. 31. Throughout his 18 years in San Diego Superior Court, he presided over both criminal and civil trials, ranging from organized crime to high-profile murder cases.

Einhorn served as a trial lawyer for 28 years before being appointed to Superior Court by then-Governor Pete Wilson in 1995.

When asked if there was any case that troubled him the most throughout his career, he quickly responded, "Yes."

In 1996, 15-year-old Joshua Jenkins was charged with killing five members of his family. Einhorn was the judge presiding over the case.

Jenkins killed his parents and grandparents, then took his sister to Home Depot to buy a hatchet. He later used that hatchet to kill her, Einhorn said.

Despite his plea of insanity, the teenager was found sane and convicted. He was sentenced to 112 years to life in prison.

"The jury … found that he was sane at the time [of the murders]," Einhorn said. "That was rough. It was rough on the jury, it was rough on my staff, it was rough on me. He was one, bizarre sick kid."

Einhorn also presided over the death penalty case of Brandon Wilson, a man convicted in the 1998 murder of 9-year-old Matthew Cecci from Oceanside. Wilson hung himself in his cell at San Quentin State Prison in 2011.

More recently, Einhorn was assigned to the 2007 "Bird Rock Bandits" case in which five La Jolla men were held criminal responsible for their roles in the beating and death of surfer Emery Kauanui Jr.

Seven years ago, then-Presiding Judge Einhorn helped bring what is now known as the San Diego County Mock Trial to the area.

As far as retirement, Einhorn hopes to "let retirement happen."

"I don't have any immediate plans on what I want to do in my second life," he said, although he is interested in teaching law school and getting involved in philanthropic organizations.

He will miss the people he saw on a daily basis the most.

"The jury trials, the jurors, the lawyers, even the defendants in criminal cases," Einhorn said. "I tried to treat them as I would anyone else."

He has spent the last few weeks eating lunches with many colleagues and attending retirement celebrations thrown in his honor.

"It's bittersweet," Einhorn said. "I'm leaving the best job in the world."

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