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John B. Molinari, who spent more than two decades as a trial court judge and appeal court justice in San Francisco, died Monday at age 94. Then-Gov. Earl Warren, a Republican, appointed Molinari to the San Francisco Municipal Court in 1948, and the judge successfully ran for the superior court bench about five years later. Molinari was named to the First District Court of Appeal in 1962, by then-Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown Sr., a Democrat. He served as presiding justice of the First District’s division one from 1966 until he left the bench in 1977. Though Molinari was an avid sports fan and loved to travel, the law was his life, as well as his hobby, said his son, John L. Molinari. “My mother used to call it his mistress.” Molinari’s life was centered in San Francisco, where he grew up; he attended Lowell High School and went to college at the University of San Francisco. He graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1933, his son said. After law school, Molinari became a “neighborhood lawyer” with a general practice in North Beach. During World War II, he worked as a part-time San Francisco assistant district attorney in the mornings, spent his afternoons at his private practice and worked evenings transporting oxygen tanks to a naval station, his son said. After retiring from the bench in 1977, Molinari re-entered private practice — alongside his brother, Charles, and one of his former law clerks, Leonard Berger — at Molinari Casalnuovo & Berger. There, he focused on probate and estate law until he retired in the mid-1990s, his son said. Berger, who clerked for Molinari at the superior court and now practices at Berger Nadel & Vannelli, recalls that the judge presided over his share of high-profile cases, including the trial of notorious madam Mabel Malotte. Molinari is survived by his son, John L., and his daughter, Victoria Berezin, as well as five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Helen. A vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at Halsted N. Gray-Carew & English, 1123 Sutter St. in San Francisco. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at Saints Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert St. in San Francisco. Donations may be sent to the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, 1095 Market St., No. 408, San Francisco, 94103; the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, 207 Skyline Blvd., San Francisco, 94132; or the Lowell Alumni Association, P.O. Box 320009, San Francisco, 94132.

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