Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Attorney Doug Dalton Passes Away

Robert Douglas “Doug” Dalton passed away on August 20, 2022 at the age of 92. (image from the 2008 documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired“)


Criminal defense attorney Robert Douglas Dalton passed away last month, just shy of his 93rd birthday. The longtime Fremont Place resident was most well known for representing movie director Roman Polanski, who plead guilty to sexual abuse of a 13-year-old and fled the country in the face of sentencing.

Dalton was born in 1929 and grew up in Long Beach. According to his son Bart Dalton, of Brozynski & Dalton PC in Plano, Texas,  Dalton always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. 

“He would tell us stories when he was a kid in Long Beach that he would take the trolley up to Los Angeles just so he could watch trials at the court- house,” Bart Dalton told the Daily Journal for an obituary published earlier this month and shared with the Buzz by the Dalton family. “That was something he just did, but he never thought he would be able to go to law school.”

Thanks to the GI Bill, Dalton graduated from UCLA and enlisted in the Navy, where he served from 1951-1953. He attended law school at the University of Southern California, and then went to work as a prosecutor in the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office. He left to work for Joseph Ball of Ball, Hunt, Hart, Brown & Baerwitz, where he represented clients in civil actions. According to the Daily Journal, Dalton represented the widow of famed Los Angeles Times reporter Ruben Salazar, who as killed on August 29, 1970 covering a protest against the Vietnam war organized by the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War.

“According to reports, the protesters were peaceful until the police showed up. Then things got chaotic. Salazar, one of the most prominent Latino journalists of his day, was among the three people who died. He was sitting at a bar sipping a beer when he was struck in the head by a 10-inch, torpedo-shaped tear gas projectile fired by a deputy sheriff,” reported the Daily Journal. “Bart Dalton said his father secured a $700,000 settlement in a civil lawsuit brought by Salazar’s family. The deputy was never charged with a crime. “I believe at the time it was one of the most significant payouts in the county by a municipality,” Bart Dalton said.”

Dalton also represented John Ehrlichman, a Hancock Park resident and a former aide to President Richard Nixon. Ehrlichman and co-defendants G. Gordon Liddy and Davild R. Young, Jr. were accused of conspiracy and burglary in connection with the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s former psychiatrist, following Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, according to the Daily Journal.

“At the time,  Ehrlichman and the others wanted Nixon to testify that they were acting as law enforcement officers. Dalton tried to subpoena Nixon, but White House counsel James St. Clair rejected the request. Ehrlichman was found guilty of three counts of perjury and one of conspiracy. He was sentenced on July 31, 1974, to 20 months in prison.

“That was the case that made Doug Dalton a go-to lawyer for celebrities who got into legal scrapes,” Bart Dalton said. “He became known as a kind of celebrity lawyer in town. He represented John Lennon, Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds and the one they all talk a lot about, Roman Polanski,” Bart Dalton told Daily Journal Staff writer Douglas Sanders.

In a tribute to Dalton, Hollywood Deadline Executive Editor Michael Cieply wrote, “…Dalton had a near-obsession with the integrity of the legal system. He believed in it, and he strongly felt that the system, when it failed, must be brought to account. He wanted the Los Angeles courts to right their own wrongs, not so much for Polanski’s sake, but for the rest of us. If back-door deals, made and freely broken, became the stuff of justice, then nobody was safe.”

The case against Polanski is still open, Bart Dalton is continuing the work, and Polanski is remains a fugitive.

Locally, Dalton was an active member of the Fremont Place Association, serving on the board for many years, including serving as president. This writer had the opportunity to know Dalton as a neighbor and supportive member of the community. He could be seen often taking an early morning walk. He was highly regarded and will be missed.

Doug Dalton passed away Aug. 20, 11 days before his 93rd birthday. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Shirley, and their five children, Juile, John, Douglas, Matthew and Bartholomew.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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