Friday, October 18, 2002
Davis Appoints Three to Los Angeles Superior Court
By LORELEI LAIRD, Staff Writer
Gov. Gray Davis yesterday named three members of the local legal community to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Davis appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Bachner, Superior Court Commissioner Deborah L. Christian and Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender Dennis Landin. They will replace retired judges Debra W. Yang, Leslie W. Light and Ann Kough, respectively.
Landin said yesterday that he wanted to be a judge in part because after 22 years as an advocate, he’s “ready to be a referee now.”
His experience includes not only 20 years in the Federal Public Defender’s Office, eleven of those as chief deputy, but two years with the Long Beach Legal Aid foundation—and two stints as a juror, he noted. As a judge, he said, he hopes to continue helping the public understand the legal system.
“[I hope] to let the community know about the inner workings of the court, how important it is to participate in the system, either as a witness or a juror—to have respect for the system,” he said.
Landin added that being a public defender for so long might give him a different perspective on the cases he’ll try.
“I think I’ve always been concerned about fair administration of justice, but I think given my experience... I can bring a little something different to the bench,” he said.
Landin graduated from Occidental College and UCLA Law School. He is currently the president of the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and vice president of the Mexican American Bar Foundation.
Bachner, a lawyer since 1981, said she hoped to become a judge in order to “give to the community in a different way” from her current position as senior litigation counsel in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She has prosecuted almost every type of criminal case handled by that office, she commented, including complex narcotics, money laundering and tax evasion.
She also has experience in both criminal and civil cases in private practice, which she says will help her as a judge to “make sure that everyone gets a fair day in court.”
“It’s a wonderful challenge,” she added.
Bachner earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard/Radcliffe College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. She is an adjunct professor of law at USC, where she teaches a trial advocacy course, and has served as a judge pro tempore in small claims and traffic courts.
Christian, who is on vacation this week, was an unsuccessful candidate for retired Judge Kenneth Edward Vassie’s seat in 2000. Christian, an Inglewood Municipal Court commissioner before unification, lost the election to then-Deputy District Attorney Patricia Titus, who now sits downtown. That election, the first after the courts were unified, made headlines as the county’s first contest for a judgeship between two black women and because Titus ran a controversial campaign based in part on her belief in Christianity.
Christian was appointed a municipal court commissioner in 1994. Prior to that, she served as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills, a master’s degree in public administration from USC and a law degree from UCLA.
The governor’s announcement came a day after his announcement of the appointments of Rafael Ongkeko and John Kronstadt to the Los Angeles court, John Iwasko to the Santa Barbara Superior Court and Manuel Covarrubias to the Ventura Superior Court.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company