Alan L. Sternberg, a former Colorado Court of Appeals judge who served as chief judge for nine years, died Friday, May 24, at home in Englewood. He was 93.

Sternberg was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 1974, and he served the court until 1998. During his long service, Sternberg authored more than 1800 opinions, including 568 published opinions and 56 published dissents.

In 1994, as chief judge, Sternberg upheld a conviction for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder against Brian Hood, who conspired with Jennifer Reali in the shooting death of Hood’s wife, Dianne. Hood had appealed his conviction, but the court found “ample evidence” that the defendant was complicit in his wife’s murder.

The infamous case made international headlines. Reali, who was known as the “fatal attraction” killer, was convicted of first-degree murder. She shot Diane Hood in 1990 as the victim was leaving a Lupus support meeting in Colorado Springs.

“Reali testified that (Hood) told her about various plans he had devised to accomplish the murder of his wife, such as causing his wife’s death in a car accident and staging a robbery at a convenience store during which someone would shoot her,” Sternberg said at the time. “Other ideas involved hitting her over the head with a fallen tree branch so that it would look like an accident or staging a burglary during which she would be shot.”

Sternberg Family
Alan L. Sternberg

Born on Feb. 13, 1926, in Worcester, Mass., Sternberg joined the Army, at age 18 in 1944, during World War II. Serving in the 95th Infantry Division, Sternberg fought in France and Germany. Wounded in combat, Sternberg received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge as part of his service.

After the army, Sternberg received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in Boston. He moved to Boulder, with his wife, Natalie, and enrolled in the University of Colorado law school. Sternberg graduated from CU in 1950 and moved to Littleton, where he practiced law.

From 1959 to 1974, Sternberg served as the city attorney in Littleton. He was an attorney with the Littleton Urban Renewal Authority from 1966 to 1974. Sternberg was among a group of people involved in establishing the location of Arapahoe Junior College, now Arapahoe Community College. In 1973, the Littleton Independent recognized Sternberg as its public servant of the year.

In 1998, Sternberg received the William Knous Award in recognition of outstanding achievement and service by a CU-Boulder alumnus. He was a private arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

“My dad was an amazing example of someone who could be totally enthralled by the giggle of a 6-month-old great-grandchild while still pursuing meaningful work in a career dedicated to public service to the very end of his life,” said Kathy North. “For colleagues, friends and family alike, he will be missed for the warmth, intelligence, determination and wit he showed in every phase of his life.”

His first wife, Natalie, preceded him in death. Sternberg is survived by his wife, Sharon, whom he married in 1988; his children, Kathy North, Peter Sternberg, Wendy Kawakami and Daniel Sternberg; a stepdaughter, Dawn Lee; four grandchildren, a stepgrandchild and five great-grandchildren.

At Sternberg’s instruction, no memorial service was held. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association.