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John Griffiths, a special master in superior courts statewide, died July 29 after a seven-month battle with cancer. He was 67. In the early 1980s Griffiths was an influential figure in the special master system for mediating complex civil litigation, said Jack Schwartzman, a name partner and colleague at Griffiths, Castle & Schwartzman. “He was the key figure in getting the [special master] system going and fashioned it into the system it is today,” said Schwartzman. “His real gift was his personal charisma, decency and humanity. It was invaluable in the context of mediation. He had a special way of making people feel included in the process.” Griffiths’ talent for mediation, especially in difficult construction defect actions, placed him in high demand not only in the Bay Area but elsewhere in the state and country, Schwartzman said. Over the course of his career, Griffiths was involved in the arbitration, mediation or resolution of more than 3,500 cases. In addition to his duties as special master, Griffiths served on the board of visitors at Stanford Law School and was appointed judge pro tem for the superior courts of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda counties. Griffiths graduated from Stanford Law School in 1955 and joined the law firm of Crist, Griffiths, Bryant, Schulz & Biorn, where he practiced family law and general civil practice litigation. He eventually was named managing partner. Griffiths is survived by his wife, Ann; his four daughters and three sons-in-law, Jennifer and Denis Morrissey, Natalie and Bracken Richardson, Susan and Rick Jones, and Ann Elizabeth Griffiths; and seven grandchildren. A memorial will be 4:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Stanford University Memorial Church.

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