Following the death of popular UCSB professor and Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Joseph Lodge, the political science department has now chosen a prominent criminal attorney to finish teaching his current course.
Lodge had taught Political Science 165, a criminal justice course, on and off at UCSB since 1959. He passed away on the day of his class’ midterm. According to the Political Science Dept., the course will continue with its syllabus as planned, albeit with a new instructor. Grades will not be affected.
Criminal attorney Benjamin Bycel, who was acquainted with Lodge for about 30 years, is set to teach the remainder of the course starting tonight. In addition to having taught law and society at UCSB in the ’80s and ’90s, Bycel is a published author and the former Executive Chair of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.
Lodge was well known for allowing his students personal access to the justice system. Often, his courtroom would play host to handfuls of students who came to observe the inner workings of the plea bargain system and other legal procedures. In light of this, political science Chair John Wooley said the department had not yet decided whether to continue offering the course after this quarter.
“Obviously, its been a popular course, and we take note of the fact that students seem to have interest,” Wooley said. “[However access to Lodge’s courtroom is] something that’s going to be really hard to reproduce. It’s too soon to know if the class will continue.”
Meanwhile, Bycel said that he would draw upon his own extensive experience in the criminal justice field in teaching the remainder of Lodge’s Spring Quarter course.
“Joe was unique,” Bycel said. “There was always this overriding theme. How do we make a system that is basically unjust, just? What I plan to talk about [during tonight’s lecture] is the ethics, morality and sense of justice that Joe brought to the courtroom.”
Third-year political science major Chris Lloyd learned of Lodge’s passing yesterday. Like many students in the class, he said he was distraught.
“Wow, that was a bad feeling,” Lloyd said. “My stomach just sank. He was the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
Lodge was known for his anecdotal lectures. Lloyd said the professor once told his class of a time he sentenced an openly gay man to less than a year’s time for a crime that deserved more time in acknowledgement of the abuse he would suffer if sent to prison instead of county jail. Lloyd said it was these types of stories that made criminal justice interesting.
“It was really nice to see someone who was in a position to make or break people being rational and knowing that each penalty isn’t right for each person,” Lloyd said.
Prior to his death, Lodge stated that he does not want a memorial service. However, he did ask that anyone wishing to honor his memory contribute to SB Planned Parenthood. The judge’s wife, former Santa Barbara mayor Sheila Lodge, served on the Planned Parenthood board for several years. Funds can be contributed online at www.ppsbvslo.org.
Criminal Justice Head Teaching Assistant Heather Arnold said that she and the other TAs are working to make the transition to a new professor smooth. However, she said Lodge will be sorely missed.
“He was a good man and a gentle spirit and someone for whom I have tremendous admiration, both personally and professionally,” Arnold said. “I admitted to my students at the beginning of the quarter that I have a huge crush on him and I always will.”