Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 9, 2002


Page 1


Three Commissioners Named Los Angeles Superior Court Judges




Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Steven P. Sanora, Thomas R. White and Kelvin D. Filer were named Superior Court judges yesterday by Gov. Gray Davis.

Sanora, 52, took the oath of his office yesterday at the El Monte courthouse, where he has worked since 1992. He was named a Rio Hondo Municipal Court commissioner that year, and became a Superior Court commissioner through unification two years ago.

He told the MetNews he does not expect any immediate change in his duties, which include hearing a domestic violence calendar and repeat-offender drunk driving cases.

“I enjoy being here in El Monte,” he said. But the judicial appointment will make it possible to do other types of work, he added, saying he was “willing to go wherever they want to send me.”

Sanora, who fills a vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Paul Boland to the Court of Appeal, is a graduate of California State University-Los Angeles and USC’s law school. He was a criminal defense lawyer in private practice from 1975 until his appointment as commissioner.

White, 57, also took the oath yesterday. He sits in Santa Clarita, where he was a Newhall Municipal Court commissioner from 1998 until he became a Superior Court commissioner under unification.

White said he has enjoyed his tenure in Santa Clarita, where has “always been treated as an equal” by the judges. But after conversations with court officials, he explained, he expects to be transferred to Lancaster.

The supervising judge there, Steven D. Ogden, said he could use help immediately, White related, but it’s not clear when he’ll make the move or which courtroom he would take.

The court has had a void since Judge Pamela Rogers had back surgery last October. Judge Howard Swart, who retired from the Antelope Municipal Court three years ago, has filled in part of the time on assignment, and officials said Rogers’ return remains uncertain.

White is a graduate of UCLA and the University of San Diego School of Law. He began his career in the Judge Advocate General office of the U.S. Air Force, trying criminal cases from 1970 to 1974. He left for general practice, handling personal injury, criminal, family law, juvenile and bankruptcy cases from 1975 until 1988, when he founded the Los Angeles Law Clinic, with offices in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, and Lancaster.

White said the switch from Santa Clarita-”the third or fourth safest city in America” as he described it-to Lancaster, with its huge criminal caseload, will be interesting but it “shouldn’t take too long to settle in.”

Filer, 46, was a Compton Municipal Court commissioner from 1993 until unification. He still sits in Compton, where he spent 12 years on the school board-three years as president-before becoming a judicial officer.

He was a state deputy public defender from 1980 to 1982. He then opened a practice in Compton, focusing on criminal defense and personal injury work.

At the time of his commissioner appointment, he was practicing with his father, Compton City Councilman Maxcy Filer. The elder Filer became somewhat legendary after passing the bar exam, in 1991, on the 48th try.

Kelvin Filer’s brother, Anthony Filer, is a lawyer with Community Legal Services in Norwalk.

The newly appointed judge ran for the Compton Municipal Court in 1994, losing a close and bitter race to Thomas Townsend, then a fellow commissioner.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company