Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, November 14, 2003


Page 3


Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner John Ladner Retires




Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner John Ladner has retired, a court spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Ladner, 57, left the court Friday after having been on the bench for most of the past 20 years. He was named a Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner in 1983, retired in 1989, then served on assignment from February 1990 to March 1991 and from June 1992 until he was reappointed in January 1998.

He was later named a Superior Court commissioner, filling a federally funded position hearing family support cases at the Central Civil West courthouse. Ladner earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1968, then took two years off, spending a year touring Europe. He returned to academia, graduating from Loyola Law School in 1973.

His first job was as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the District of Columbia, from 1974-76. He then served a stint in 1976 as a as a special assistant to the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles; returned to HEW, working in its New York office from 1976-77; held the position of Los Angeles deputy public defender from 1977-79; and was in private practice from 1979 until his election as a commissioner by the Los Angeles Municipal Court judges in March 1983.

He was a three-time unsuccessful candidate for elective office. He ran for Municipal Court judge in 1992 and 2000 and for the state Assembly in a June 1991 special election.

He lost the two judicial races despite being rated “well qualified” by the County Bar both times. The 1992 race was won by then-Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Stephanie Sautner and the 2000 contest by then-Deputy District Attorney David Mintz after Ladner missed the runoff by less than 200 votes.

He finished 12th of 15 candidates in the 1991 Assembly contest, which was won by fellow Democrat Barbara Friedman.

The process of being a candidate was both exciting and frustrating, he told the MetNews during his last campaign. At one point, he noted, he wrote to every civic group in the Los Angeles Municipal Court district, introducing himself as a judicial candidate and offering to speak to the group.

Only two of the organizations took him up on his offer, he said.

Ladner was frank in discussing his judicial philosophy.

“I was raised to be a person with a social conscience and to be a liberal in political philosophy,” the commissioner once told a reporter. “My father’s Catholicism”—which the elder Ladner, a college professor, came to late in life after being raised as a Jew—“and his beliefs about the very early Christian Church are at the core of my political upbringing.”

He observed that there was a “misimpression that if one has compassion” as a judicial officer, “that somehow erodes law and order.”

But he declared that it was “outrageous” and “unacceptable” for parents to meet their financial obligations to their children. “I have no problem using the power of the court to cause these people to pay their child support,” he commented.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company