Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, December 18, 2003


Page 1


Court Commissioners Will Be Elected From New List, Assistant Presiding Judge MacLaughlin Says


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles Superior Court Executive Committee voted yesterday to terminate the existing list of candidates for Superior Court commissioner, Assistant Presiding Judge William MacLaughlin told the MetNews.

As a result, the two commissioner vacancies that now exist, along with future vacancies as they arise, will be filled from a new list of 35 candidates chosen by a court selection panel. The candidates on that list were notified in the past few days, and MacLaughlin said the list could be made official as early as today.

The MetNews reported yesterday, based on sources close to the process, that veteran criminal defense lawyer H. Elizabeth Harris holds the top position on the list, Referees Brian Petraborg and Anthony Trendacosta and and Referee Steff Padilla are in the top 10; Referee Alan Friedenthal, Alliance for Children’s Rights attorney Amy Pellman, and retired Commissioner John Murphy are in the top 20, and Referee Zeke Zeidler is in the top 25.

Referee Jacqueline Lewis is No. 35, a source reported, while positions could not be learned for former Referee Joel Wallenstein or Referee Pam Davis.

MacLaughlin said the official announcement is being delayed because he has asked court staff to review the numerical positions in order to make absolutely certain that the ranking order is correct. But there will definitely be no change as to who is on or not on the list and probably no change as to the order, the assistant presiding judge explained.

The person most immediately impacted by yesterday’s action was Deputy Public Defender Lisa Brackelmanns, who would have been the top-ranked candidate on the ballot had the old list been used for another election. Under a local rule, had the Executive Committee not terminated the old list, it could have been used until the number of candidates on it dwindled to within two of the number of existing vacancies.

There were 35 names on the list when it was certified in September 2001. Since then, 24 of those candidates have been elected, one withdrew for undisclosed reasons, and one was appointed a judge, leaving nine on the list.

At least three of the nine—Petraborg, Trendacosta, and Wallenstein—are on the new list. But Brackelmanns, who could not be reached yesterday for comment, is not.

The other candidates remaining on the old list were Referee Steven Lee Berman, Downey lawyer Daniel Wilson, Los Angeles attorney Joseph Sheehan, Santa Monica family law specialist Susan Weiss, Beverly Hills attorney Marilyn Nelson and Santa Monica criminal law specialist Steven Hauser.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company