California Freemason: Prince Hall, Then and Now

Your Honor: Judge John Weller Keeps Things on the Level

Whether on the bench or in lodge, John Weller preaches fairness.

By Tony Pierucci

Above: John Weller, of Western Knights № 56 in South L.A., has served on the bench of the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2020.

As a young boy, John Weller remembers attending church and wondering who all those tall men in dark suits were. One of them even had a top hat on. “That was my first experience with Prince Hall Masonry,” Weller, now 43, remembers from his home in Inglewood. His pastor was a member of a local lodge and often invited his fellow members to hear him preach. “Looking back, I now see that most of the men I admired in my church were Masons.”

It wasn’t until he was a grown man that Weller acted on that curiosity. Approaching one of the men at church—seemingly not so tall now—Weller worked up the courage to ask about Freemasonry and, eventually, what it took to join. “Like most people unfamiliar with the fraternity, I had questions,” Weller says.

These days, when John Weller asks questions, he expects answers. Appointed by Governor Newsom to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2020, Judge Weller has served on the bench for four years. Before that, he was a deputy district attorney specializing in cybercrime. “I really see my role as a judge as a chance to make sure each side is fairly heard—something I wasn’t in a position to do as a deputy DA,” Weller says.

Now a past master of Western Knights Lodge № 56, Judge Weller can look back at his time in the fraternity and see the mark it left on his life and career. “For starters, this is not just a brotherhood, it’s a family,” Weller says. Over the years, he’s grown close with many of the men in his lodge. Several of them have been by his side for special life events like weddings and baby showers. He’s even found that his experience as an officer has made him a better judge. “Serving in leadership positions in lodge gave me the confidence that I could do that in another arena as well,” he says. “It’s also made me a better listener. I’ve learned to listen for understanding. I’m not just hearing and waiting to respond.”

Billy Harrington, a past master of Western Knights № 56, says that servant-leadership style is typical of Weller, whom he describes as selfless. That, in turn, is something Weller says he’s drawn from his spiritual life. “I like the fact that the desire to make yourself a better person and a servant in your community is something that both my faith and my fraternity value,” he says.

As both a public officer of the court and a proud Prince Hall Mason, Weller says he’s especially mindful of the way he carries himself out in the world. “People are looking to me in a certain light,” he says. “I’m not just a Mason, but a role model.”

After all, he says, you never know when that little kid might be looking up at the tall men in suits—and forming their own questions.



Read more profiles of California Prince Hall Masons here:

Gary Ransom Blazed Trails in California’s Court System

Your Honor: Judge John Weller Keeps Things on the Level

For Senior Grand Warden Aaron Washington, History’s in the Making

Meet Trevor Lawrence Jr., the Keeper of the Beat

Photography by
Mathew Scott

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