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Municipal Court Judge Dies In His Courtroom

February 1, 1992

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A registered nurse rushed to the aid of a judge who was stricken and died on the bench while hearing a lawsuit challenging the nurse’s dismissal from nursing school for not reacting properly to emergencies.

Municipal Judge William Mallen, 55, died of an apparent heart attack Friday. He was hearing motions in Betty Niemi’s civil lawsuit at the time.

Niemi, 46, is suing the San Francisco Community College District over her her probation and subsequent dismissal from the City College of San Francisco School of Nursing in 1988.

The school’s dean and faculty members have testified in the trial that Niemi was dismissed because of inadequate emergency response. Niemi later earned a registered nurse’s degree at another school and now works at an Oakland hospital.

″Today, she was the first one out of a chair to help,″ said her husband and attorney, Gunnar W. Niemi.

The jury had left for lunch and the lawyers were arguing legal issues when the judge suddenly gasped for air. He was helped to the floor and Niemi tried to revive him while paramedics were called.

Paramedics were unable to revive him, said Mallen’s clerk-administrator, Gordon Park-Li.

″They did everything they could, but the paramedics said there was nothing else they could do for him,″ he said.

Two of the judge’s nine children were in the courtroom waiting to have lunch with him when he collapsed.

The courtroom was closed for the rest of the day Friday. Another judge will complete the trial.

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