Carol E. Lavacot, a long-time criminal defense attorney and former senior deputy public defender, died at Hoag Hospital on September 5, 2016, at age 75, after a five-year battle with a rare disease called POEMS syndrome.
Carol was a beloved figure in the legal community, known for her compassion, boundless optimism and devotion to her clients. Within the Orange County Public Defenders’ Office she served on the Felony Panel, in the Writs & Appeals section and as a supervisor of the branch court in South Orange County. Ms. Lavacot was an accomplished trial lawyer who tried some of the office’s most serious cases, and a successful appellate advocate at the Fourth District Court of Appeal. She frequently observed that just because people were poor didn’t mean they shouldn’t have top legal representation, “And I intend to give it to them!”
Following her retirement from the Public Defender’s Office, Ms. Lavacot established a successful private practice with a varied and sometimes colorful clientele, including famed MMA fighter “Rampage” Jackson. She also developed a second specialty in education law.
Born on June 4, 1941, in Los Angeles, the daughter of Theodore Remsen and Virginia Cain Remsen, Carol grew up in Brea, California, graduating from Brea-Olinda High School. She married her high school sweetheart, Robert Lavacot, when they were each 18 years old. Together they had four children, who along with their grandchildren were a source of pride and delight to Ms. Lavacot. Their happiness as a couple was legendary; next month Carol and Bob would have celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary.
A graduate of Cal State Fullerton and Western State University College of Law, Ms. Lavacot was an avid reader until the end, listening to books on tape as her eyesight and energy failed her. She also continued to act as a confidante and advisor to her many friends, and an inspiration to all.
A resident of San Juan Capistrano, Carol cherished her hilltop home, designed by her architect daughter, which features a custom iron gate created by her husband. She was a dedicated gardener and worked with Bob to establish roughly an acre of vegetable, fruit and flower gardens there.
Ms. Lavacot is survived by her loving husband Bob, children Kimberlee [David Bennet] of Seattle, WA; Michael [Toni], of Irvine, CA; Kenneth [Renee] of Yorba Linda, CA; brothers Lawrence and Gerald Remsen, and grandchildren Christopher, Alex and Ryan Lavacot, and Hannah and Ben Bennett. An adult son, Larry Lavacot, predeceased her.
A graveside service will be held this Saturday, September 10, at 10 a.m., at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange. Friends and family are invited to gather immediately afterward at the Lavacot family home in San Juan Capistrano, to share stories and remembrances. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation in Carol’s name to The Public Law Center, a pro bono law firm that provides access to justice for low-income residents of Orange County.