It was easy to find the Blacksmoke cigar appreciation event at the California Judges Association meeting Friday evening. All you had to do was follow your nose.
The pungent gathering drew about 50 judges to a hotel plaza overlooking Monterey Bay. At least, we think it was about 50 -- it was hard to see through the haze. (OK, we exaggerate. Somewhat.)
The festivities were held in abeyance momentarily as the group honored the memory of Matthew Manoukian -- son of one of the Blacksmoke organizers, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates "Pete" Manoukian. Matthew Manoukian died last summer while serving as a Marine captain in Afghanistan. Just six months ago, he had shared a smoke with many of the same jurists at CJA's mid-year meeting in Indian Wells.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Tim McCoy and Lance Ito presented Judge Manoukian with a statue of a Marine bearing a flag, and about 15 jurists wore t-shirts emblazoned with the younger Manoukian's likeness.
Judge Manoukian said his son didn't try to draw a lot of attention to his service, but was especially proud that millions more Afghan girls are going to school now than under the Taliban regime.