Jay Hanks

The Honorable Jay Thompson Hanks passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. He was 76 years old. Jay, also known as Tom, was born on May 7, 1944 in the tiny town of Beardstown, Illinois. His father, a lawyer and a judge, charted a career path for Jay that he pursued with great passion. His greatest passion, however, was his family. Jay met the love of his life, Norma Kay Johnson, in elementary school. Jay would chase young Kay home from school. The couple married in 1966 and were married for over 54 years. As a young man, Jay enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War and was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. Kay moved to Japan with Jay, where he served as a Mine Warfare Specialist. Upon their return to the states, Jay and Kay moved to Riverside where he graduated from UCR. Jay went on to law school at Pepperdine University. On July 1, 1974, he began his career as a Deputy District Attorney in the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. Jay rose quickly through the ranks of the office, becoming the Assistant District Attorney in November of 1982. Jay’s greatest professional achievement came in 1980, when he was tabbed as the lead trial attorney for the infamous Norco Bank Robbery case. The case involved one of the most spectacular bank robberies in American history and spawned multiple movies and books, including the 2019 book “Norco ’80 The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History,” by Peter Houlahan. The trial took Jay away from his young family to Vista for over a year and ultimately led to sentences of life imprisonment without parole for the three defendants. In 1988, Jay was elected to the Riverside County Municipal Court and in 1990 was elevated to the Riverside County Superior Court where he served until retirement. Though Jay’s career featured a number of professional triumphs, his crowning achievement was his two children, Joshua and Emily Hanks. Joshua went on to a career as an attorney. Like his father, Joshua spent a period of time as a Prosecutor at the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. Jay’s daughter Emily is also an attorney and, like her father, a career prosecutor, first in the California Attorney General’s Office and for the last eight years in the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Joshua and Emily found a love of the law early, both competing on California State Mock Trial Championship Teams at Riverside Poly High School, where Joshua continues to coach. Jay was never prouder than he was when watching his children pursue his passion. In 2007 Jay became a grandfather for the first time. He has a total of five grandchildren, in whose presence he always beamed. Jay is survived by his brothers, Hardin and Richard Hanks, Kay, Joshua, Emily, and his five grandchildren.

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