U.S. District Judge Herbert J. Hutton, 69, a lifelong Philadelphian who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, died Sunday.
Judge Hutton, who lived in Mount Airy, died at the Saunders House at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, his son Brandon Hutton said. The cause of death was amyloidosis, the son said.
"He was a true gentleman and a very good judge," said U.S. Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, who inherited Judge Hutton's chambers and who had appeared before him as a lawyer in the 1990s.
Judge Hutton presided over several high-profile trials: He sentenced Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino to 14 years; sentenced to probation guards at Graterford Prison who beat inmates; and presided over the acquittal by a jury of police officers accused of stealing $28,000 from patrons at an illegal cockfight.
Judge Hutton was the only child of Herbert Harris Hutton and Reacer Baylor Jefferson Hutton, both of Philadelphia.
Judge Hutton graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1955, Lincoln University in 1959, and the Temple University School of Law in 1962.
He served as an attorney for the Pennsylvania Housing and Home Finance Agency from 1962 to 1964, and was a hearing officer for the city Board of Revision of Taxes in the mid-1980s.
Judge Hutton spent the bulk of his early legal career - from 1964 to 1988 - in private practice, including as a partner at Norris, Schmidt, Green, Harris & Higginbotham.
"My father cherished the company and laughter of good friends, watching professional boxing, and spoiling his two granddaughters," Brandon Hutton said. "He loved going to the Shore and playing poker."
Judge Hutton rose to the federal bench in fall 1988. He assumed semi-retired status in 2003.
"He was a terrific mentor," said Philadelphia lawyer Scott F. Cooper, a law clerk to Judge Hutton from 1992 to 1993. "He went out of his way to expose his law clerks to the activities in his courtroom and always had the time to explain the basis behind his rulings."
Another former law clerk, Brennan J. Torregrossa, recalled Judge Hutton as "the consummate judge, even-keeled, someone who understood the issues, someone who had a sense of humor."
Judge Hutton married Valerie Russell in 1961 in Philadelphia. The marriage ended in divorce 30 years later.
In addition to his son Brandon, he is survived by another son, Jeffrey; a daughter, Debbie Hutton Marcee; two granddaughters; and his fiancee, Patricia Perry. His former wife also survives him.
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the chapel at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 215 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd. Burial will follow.