Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, May 31, 2002


Page 1


Three Bench Officers Slate Retirements in Next Two Months


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Theodore D. Piatt and Thomas R. Simpson and Commissioner Ernest Lopez are scheduled to retire within the next two months, a court official said yesterday.

Simpson, 60, will step down July 1 after 20 years of judicial service, but may sit on assignment after that, a court clerk said. He is currently the site judge in San Pedro and previously served in Compton.

He was a partner in the Long Beach firm of Zugsmith and Simpson when then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the Long Beach Municipal Court in 1982. Then-Gov. George Deukmejian elevated him to the Superior Court in 1991.

The Long Beach native graduated from what is now California State University, Long Beach in 1963 and from Boalt Hall School of Law of 1966. He was a deputy district attorney, rising to become deputy in charge of the San Pedro office, before going into private practice in 1973.

Piatt, 65, will step down July 31, by which time he will have completed 18 years as a judge. He was a commissioner for three years before that.

The jurist, a Los Angeles native who grew up in Pomona, graduated from Pomona College in 1959 and from Hastings College of the Law in 1966, having served in the U.S. Navy in between.

He began his legal career with the Public Defender’s Office, first as a law clerk and then as an attorney. He practiced briefly with his brother, James Piatt—who served on the Pomona Municipal Court from 1971 to 1984 and on the Superior Court from 1984 to 1993—before becoming a deputy district attorney in 1969.

He established a solo practice in Clermont in 1974, primarily doing criminal work until he was appointed a Superior Court commissioner in 1981. Deukmejian appointed him to the Pomona Municipal Court in 1984 and elevated him to the Superior Court in 1986.

He was the East District supervising judge in 1992 and 1993.

Lopez, who currently sits in Inglewood, will retire June 24.

He was the rotating commissioner selected by the now-defunct Municipal Court Judges Association. That position required him to change assignments annually, filling in for whomever happened to be the MCJA chair that year.

He sat in Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1995, 1997, and 1999, in Antelope Municipal Court in 1996, and in Inglewood Municipal Court in 1998. He became a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner as a result of unification two years ago.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company