San Diego County Bar Foundation Honors 2017 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Inductees

The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) announced its 2017 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees, recognizing deceased lawyers and judges of the San Diego County Bar who have demonstrated significant commitment to their communities as well as superior legal skills and high ethical standards throughout their careers.

Each inductee was recognized with a permanent plaque in the Hall of Justice at the San Diego County Courthouse during a May 24 reception at The University Club.

“Being inducted into the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial is a great honor,” said Micaela P. Banach, president of SDCBF. “These honorees demonstrated a true passion for justice and leave behind a legacy that upholds the highest standards of the law.”

The 2017 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees are:

  • Raul Cadena (1966-2016) – Cadena studied sociology, economy, society and politics before hearing his law degree from University of California, Berkeley’s Boat School of Law in 1993. In 2003, he and his wife, Kristen Churchill, formed a partnership known as Cadena Churchill, LLP, where he specialized in employee class actions. Cadena held various positions within the community, including acting as the president of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego in 2015 and serving on the board of directors for the California Rural Legal Assistance from 2013 to 2016.
  • Karen S. Hughes (1959-2016) – Hughes was committed to generating the highest quality legal analysis and judicial discourse, and used this passion to develop programs that emphasized the importance of judicial education. These programs included a mock trial teaching tool in partnership with the Children at Risk Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association and educational programs for grade school students that incorporated volunteers from all levels of the court community. Hughes also acted as an advisor and mentor to many others throughout her career, including law students, foster youth and refugees.
  • Debra L. Hurst (1957-2016) – Coming from a family of lawyers, Hurst was destined to practice law and ultimately found herself side-by-side with her father, George Hurst, as Hurst & Hurst. During her career, Hurst was honored as “Trial Lawyer of the Year” and twice named “Outstanding Trial Lawyer” by the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. She received recognition from the California State Bar for being the first California lawyer to apply the salary-based test for employee exemption to part-time employees in a class action against United States Parcel Service.
  • James W. Huston (1953-2016) – Huston was a nationally regarded trial lawyer who specialized in aviation, product liability, commercial and insurance cases. He practiced law for 32 years and was recognized in numerous prestigious professional publications, including Law360, as one of the “Ten Most Admired Product Liability Attorneys” in the country. Huston was passionate about mentoring and teaching younger lawyers and leaves a tremendous legacy of advocacy and integrity. He maintained an active pro bono practice throughout his career and worked hard to provide pro bono opportunities for younger lawyers. By his own example, he taught the art and joy of practicing law with integrity and with the highest ethical standards.
  • Alex C. McDonald (1936-2016) – Justice McDonald attended Stanford University and the University of Bombay, India, among others. After earning his degrees, he specialized in real estate law and was instrumental in notable real estate projects throughout San Diego, including the development of Rancho Bernardo. Justice McDonald practiced law for more than 30 years before he served on the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One for 21 years.
  • Franklin B. Orfield (1921-2010)– Judge Orfield began practicing law after completing military service with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. In 1969, he was personally called by Governor Ronald Reagan to serve on the bench, where he acted as a superior court judge until 1988. During this time, Judge Orfield was elected Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court and oversaw hundreds of trials, including the historic Carlin case desegregating San Diego schools.

To view photos from the 2017 DLM Reception Click Here or visit: 

Colleagues, friends and families of honorees have made donations to the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Fund, benefiting the SDCBF and the law-related organizations it supports that serve the disadvantaged in the local community.

To make a contribution to the memorial or in recognition of one of this year’s honorees, visit, call 619-231-7015 or email