Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, September 4, 2001


Page 1


Superior Court Names 35 Candidates for Commissioner Posts


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


The Los Angeles Superior Court Friday named 35 finalists for court commissioner positions.

The list is dominated by candidates from the public sector. It includes 11 of the courtís referees and one of its staff attorneys, a deputy state attorney general, three deputy district attorneys, two county deputy public defenders, a deputy federal public defender, the head of enforcement for the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission, and an attorney for the Department of Child Support Services.

It also includes a Riverside Superior Court commissioner.

The list will be used to fill the four commissioner posts now vacant, as well as a to-be-determined number of future vacancies. Ballots for the current vacancies have been sent to all of the courtís judges, a court spokesman said, and are due back later this month.

This is the first list compiled since last yearís unification of the countyís trial courts, the previous Superior Court list having been compiled in 1997. The 35 finalists were chosen from a field of more than 200 who applied.

Under local court rules, a screening panel ranked the candidates in order. The rankings are not binding on the judges, who can elect anyone on the list.

As the MetNews previously reported, the No. 1 ranking belongs to Referee Jeffrey Marckese, who sits in Compton. Marckese was a candidate for Superior Court judge at last yearís elections.

The second-ranked candidate is Referee Robert Ambrose, a longtime deputy county counsel before he went to work for the court. He is followed by Deputy Attorney General Sanjay T. Kumar, a veteran appellate advocate who successfully argued for the prosecution in defense of the murder convictions of Erik and Lyle Menendez.

The No. 4 candidate is Referee Mitchell Beckloff, who sits in Eastlake Juvenile Court. He is followed by Deputy District Attorney Scott M. Gordon, who is assigned to the central trials unit and also teaches evidence, criminal procedure, and trial advocacy at Southwestern University School of Law.

The rest of the list, in ranked order:

Los Angeles attorney Robert Kawahara; Referee Melissa Widdiefield, a former criminal defense lawyer; Deputy District Attorney Diana Summerhayes, a veteran of the officeís appellate division before being reassigned to the ongoing probe of the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division and related cases; Superior Court research attorney William Dodson, a former Pasadena senior deputy city attorney; LaVerne attorney Stanford Reichert; Referee Jane Godfrey; Santa Monica lawyer Michael Levanas, Deputy Federal Public Defender Richard Novak; and Sherman Oaks practitioner Michael Convey.

Also veteran child-support enforcement lawyer Nicholas Taubert; Referee Marilyn Mackel; Deputy Public Defender Mark Zuckman; Referee Stephen Marpet; Referee Guillermina Byrne; Deputy District Attorney Roger Ito; Hurschell D. Christian, a partner in a Covina firm; Stuart Rice of Long Beach; Dennis Mulcahy of Woodland Hills; Riverside Superior Court Commissioner Gretchen W. Taylor, who sits in Indio; Deputy Public Defender Lisa Brackelmanns; Referee Brian Petraborg; Referee Joel Wallenstein; Steven Lee Berman of Torrance; Referee Anthony Trendacosta; Downey lawyer Daniel Wilson; Los Angeles attorney Joseph Sheehan; Santa Monica family law specialist Susan Weiss; Beverly Hills attorney Marilyn Nelson; Los Angeles Ethics Commission Director of Enforcement Luis Lavin; and Santa Monica criminal law specialist Steven Hauser.


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company