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Edward Kuwatch, a colorful expert in DUI law who called himself “Fast Eddie” and once ran for California attorney general, died Saturday at his Mendocino County home after a lengthy illness. He was 57 and had been diagnosed with a brain disease, his wife said. Kuwatch put out many books through his Fast Eddie Publishing Co., including the popular two-volume “California Drunk Driving Law” and its frequent updates. “We called it the bible for DUI defense,” said Barry Simons, a DUI defense attorney with offices in Laguna Beach. Kuwatch, a Vietnam War veteran, served in the U.S. Navy as a radio communications operator from 1965 to 1971, including time aboard the U.S.S. Sea Leopard. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and the John F. Kennedy University School of Law in the 1970s. Kuwatch practiced all over California but primarily out of his office in Willits, said friends and family. In 1988, he founded California Deuce Defenders, later renamed the California DUI Lawyers Association. “He had a reputation of being one of the brightest, intuitive, hard-fighting lawyers around,” said Simons. San Francisco solo criminal defense attorney Marshall Schulman, who was of counsel with Kuwatch, described his colleague as “one of these guys who would stand up to any judge at any time at any place.” In the acknowledgements for one of his books, Kuwatch said his mother had been raised “in a brewpub speakeasy” near a courthouse in Ohio frequented by judges, lawyers and newspaper reporters. He credited her for passing onto him “an appropriately cynical view of justice, judges, the news media and politicians.” Simons remembered Kuwatch as a generous resource who helped him get important public records from the Department of Motor Vehicles for a civil suit against the Irvine police over blood-alcohol tests. “He would always be available to answer any questions and give of his time and give of his insight,” he said. In 2002, Kuwatch ran for attorney general on the Libertarian Party ticket. His platform included reforming the Department of Motor Vehicles, videotaping all arrests, and creating a statewide licensing system for police officers. He received 1.7 percent of the vote. In addition to the praise some peers heap on him, Kuwatch also raised the ire of at least one. When a Long Beach DUI defense attorney accused Kuwatch of damaging his professional reputation with derogatory statements on a Web site in 2002, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury slapped Kuwatch with a $1 million verdict. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment last year in an unpublished opinion, according to one of Kuwatch’s attorneys. Kuwatch is survived by his wife, Valeria, two sisters, three stepchildren and five grandchildren. His family has planned services for Friday from noon to 7 p.m. at Kuwatch’s law office, 1325 Hilltop Dr., Willits, and Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. Attendees for the Saturday service will meet at the law office, then proceed together to Lone Pine Meadow in Willits. His family suggests memorials may be made to the Edward J. Kuwatch Scholarship Reward through the California DUI Lawyers Association, c/o President Randy Moore, 332 North Second St., San Jose, 95112; or to Phoenix Hospice, 1 Madrone St., Willits, 95490.

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