San Diego County Bar Foundation Honors 2019 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Inductees

SAN DIEGO (May 20, 2019) – The San Diego County Bar Foundation announced its 2019 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees, recognizing deceased lawyers and judges of the San Diego County Bar who have demonstrated superior legal skills and high ethical standards throughout careers of significant length.

The Distinguished Lawyer Memorial Reception will be held at the University Club on Wednesday, May 22 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Each inductee will be recognized with a permanent plaque in the Hall of Justice at the San Diego County Courthouse.

“The Distinguished Lawyer Memorial gives special and permanent recognition to well-deserving individuals,” said Monica Sherman Ghiglia, president of the Bar Foundation. “These honorees demonstrated outstanding dedication to justice and leave behind a legacy that upholds the highest standards of the law.”

The 2019 Distinguished Lawyer Memorial inductees are:

  • John W. Witt – Witt joined the San Diego City Attorney’s office in 1961, serving as a prosecutor, civil trial lawyer and public utility specialist. He was appointed city attorney by the City Council in 1969 and was elected to the post six times by San Diego’s voters. In this role, Witt advised the Mayor, City Council and City Manager on all official legal matters and supervised a staff of more than 100 lawyers. In 1996, he received the American Bar Association’s Clair Nelson Award for Outstanding Service by a Public Sector Lawyer.
  • Gerald McMahon – Known for his civility and dedication to clients, McMahon was key in establishing Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek as one of San Diego’s oldest and most respected law firms. During his career, he received many professional honors including being named a Fellow by the American College of Trial Lawyers, admitted to The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and designated as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of San Diego School of Law.
  • Kay Sunday – Before moving into private practice where she represented predominantly indigent clients, Sunday startedat Defenders, Inc. and later Community Defenders, Inc. During her 35 years in practice, Sunday was a tireless advocate for local defense lawyers, fighting for decent fees and ancillary services for appointed lawyers. She was awarded both Warhorse Award and Trial Attorney of the Year by the Criminal Defense Bar Association (CDBA). She served as president of both Criminal Defense Lawyers Club and CDBA, and was on the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Board of Directors.
  • Paul B. Wells Wells was a respected member of the San Diego Bar and a “Go To” lawyer for more than 40 years.Upon arriving in San Diego from New York, Wells began practicing at the firm which later became Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves, and Savitch. He became a pillar at Procopio where he helped create the culture which is still there today. He was the firm’s senior litigation attorney until he retired in 1994. Wells was also a member of San Diego’s volunteer community for 30 years as an airport host, Grossmont Hospital greeter, reader at KPBS and volunteer at Avocado Elementary.
  • Eugene Gordon After passing the state bar, Mr. Gordon was hired by then San Diego City Attorney, John Witt in 1969.During his time working with Witt, Gordon handled more than 1,000 cases. In addition to trying cases, Gordon also argued before the Fourth District Court of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was admitted to the United States Supreme Court. Gordon retired from the City Attorney’s Office in 2008 but continued to work as a volunteer almost daily, up until two weeks prior to his passing.
  • Thomas H. Ault Born and raised in San Diego, Ault graduated in 1972 from the University of San Diego School of Law and went to work as a clerk for the Honorable Edward J. Schwartz, chief judge of the United States District Court, San Diego. In 1972, Ault started as an associate at Holt, Rhoades & Hollywood and in 1976 made partner with the firm. Two years later, Tom became one of the founding partners of Ault, Midlam & Deuprey. Tom was elected as president of the San Diego County Bar Association and president and chairman of the board of the Board of Directors of Lawyers’ Mutual Insurance Company.

Colleagues, friends and families of honorees have made donations to the Distinguished Lawyer Memorial, benefiting the San Diego County Bar Foundation 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

About San Diego County Bar Foundation
The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) is the charitable arm of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). Through this partnership with the San Diego County legal community, SDCBF aims to benefit underprivileged communities in the region, by providing them with access to support, funding and public service programs with legal services. The foundation’s beneficiaries include more than 50 legal aid and public interest organizations. For more information, visit