Quin Denvir, '69: 1940-2016

Sacramento legal giant Quin Denvir dead at 76

Quin Denvir, the longtime federal defender in Sacramento who campaigned against the death penalty and orchestrated a deal that kept Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski off death row, died Friday in Sacramento. He was 76.

Denvir was diagnosed four years ago with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable disease that results in scarring of the lungs over time. He was hospitalized last month and died Friday night at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, according to family friends.

Denvir, known as an unassuming man who rarely talked about himself, did not tell many of his closest associates or friends about the diagnosis.

“The first I heard that he was not doing well was two days ago,” said U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd, who called Denvir’s death “a huge loss for the legal community in California and, really, across the country.”

“He was a quiet, personally unassuming guy,” Drozd said.

Unless he was in court. Then, Drozd said, “he could really deliver the thunder.”

As news of his death spread Saturday among friends and colleagues, similar words and descriptions flowed: A man with grace. Class. Dignity. A brilliant mind. Witty, with a perpetual twinkle in his eye. Steely, tough, competitive when required. And, most often: “A good human being.”

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