Edward Rafeedie

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Edward Rafeedie (January 6, 1929 – March 25, 2008) was a judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.


Early life[edit]

Rafeedie was born to Palestinian immigrants in Orange, New Jersey. His family moved to Santa Monica when he was seven years old. He lived for a while in Palestine before moving back to California.

After graduating from Venice High School, Rafeedie traveled the carnival circuit with a portable electric horse-race game called Derby. He then served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

After leaving the Army, Rafeedie enrolled at the University of Southern California. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in law in 1957, and two years later graduated from the University of Southern California Law School. He then worked in private practice until he was appointed as a Municipal Court judge in 1969 by California Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1969, Governor Reagan elevated him to the Superior Court, where he served a total of 11 years.


During his tenure on the Superior Court, Rafeedie presided over several high-profile civil cases, including the contested conservatorship of Groucho Marx, the Britt Ekland and Rod Stewart palimony trial and part of the Bob Dylan divorce case. He also sentenced the daredevil Evel Knievel to jail for attacking a television executive with a baseball bat. Rafeedie was also known for his calendar management of cases and his concern of efficient management of trials.[1] His nickname was, "Speedie Rafeedie," because of his penchant for denying trial continuances.

In 1982, Rafeedie was appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan. His most controversial case was in 1990, when he ruled that the kidnapping of Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machain was illegal and ordered his repatriation to Mexico. Alvarez Machain was accused of aiding drug traffickers in the 1985 torturing and killing of Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who was a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Because the DEA had paid a group of Mexican citizens to kidnap him in Mexico and fly him to the United States to stand trial, Rafeedie ruled that the kidnapping was a violation of the United States-Mexico extradition treaty. His commented after the ruling that "``There has to be stronger evidence than you have offered to find that a man is guilty of kidnapping, murder and torture,`` Rafeedie told prosecutors. ``This does not rise to the level required to get this case to the jury.``"[2] The ruling stunned the Justice Department and angered government agents. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later overruled his decision, holding that the extradition treaty did not prohibit kidnapping. This was due to a ruling that stated the US Government had the right to kidnap and prosecute an alleged criminal regardless of treaty. Immediately thereafter, a large number of countries holding treaties with the United States demanded that their treaties be amended, adding anti-kidnapping language.[3]


Rafeedie died from cancer on March 25, 2008 at the age of 79.


  1. ^ Jocelyn Y. Stewart (March 30, 2008). "Judge exhibited pragmatism, independence". Los Angeles TImes. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  2. ^ George de Lama (December 15, 1992). "Abducted Mexican Cleared In Killing". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  3. ^ George de Lama (December 15, 1992). "Abducted Mexican Cleared In Killing". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 

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