Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, December 11, 2003


Page 1


Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Novak Resigns to Join Westside Law Firm


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Richard Novak has resigned, effective tomorrow, in order to enter private practice.

“I’ve spent my entire legal career in public service,” Novak—a deputy federal public defender when he was elected to the commissioner’s post in June of last year—told the MetNews yesterday.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and graduating UCLA School of Law, Novak spent three years at Public Counsel, a public interest law firm, where he set up a legal clinic for homeless youth. He also worked in dependency court before joining the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

“I miss the challenge of practicing law,” he commented yesterday. His favorite cases as a practicing lawyer were in the area of financial crime, so the opportunity to join the burgeoning white-collar defense practice at Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine and Regenstreif, with offices in Westwood and San Francisco was too good to pass up, Novak said.

The decision is partially financial, he said. “It’s hard to raise children on a county government salary,” the 41-year-old jurist explained.

He enjoyed the work of a court commissioner, especially drug court, Novak—currently assigned to Inglewood—said. The high-volume assignments he’s had, including misdemeanor arraignments, and traffic trials and arraignments, have given him the opportunity to see “great lawyers in action—people from the DA’s and PD’s offices who really know what they’re doing.”

Novak said he had applied for a judgeship, but that his hopes of an appointment withered as the movement to recall former Gov. Gray Davis gained steam. In any event, he said, he would not have passed up the Liner offer for a judgeship.

He is unlikely to seek another judicial position in the future, he said. “I hope that I like private practice so much that I do it until I retire,” he explained. Nor does he expect to lack for work, he said.

“It’s an important time for really skilled people to practice in this area, and I consider myself one,” he commented.

Novak’s successor will be elected by the court’s judges. It could not immediately be determined whether the court will use the current list of candidates.

That list is being used to select a successor to Commissioner Lonzo Lucas, who retired Dec. 2. But the court’s Executive Committee is expected to approve a new list when it meets next week, a court spokesman said.



Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company