Ventura Lawyer Elected Court Commissioner
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Ventura sole practitioner Robert A. McSorley has been elected a commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court, officials said Friday.
McSorley was the only candidate to achieve a majority of all votes cast in balloting by the court’s judges for two positions, a spokesperson for Presiding Judge Robert Dukes told the MetNews. The remaining spot will be filled in a runoff between Referee Brian Petraborg and John Murphy, a retired municipal court commissioner who sits in the Superior Court on assignment.
Ballots for the runoff election will be mailed out May 4, due back May 20, and counted May 21, the spokesperson said.
McSorley said he does not know when he will be sworn in, but has a meeting scheduled with the court leadership next week. He will need “very little” time to close out his practice before taking the bench, he commented.
Top of List
McSorley was ranked No. 3 among the 35 candidates nominated by the court’s evaluating panel late last year. The two top-ranked candidates, H. Elizabeth Harris and Maren E. Nelson, were previously elected to commissioner posts.
Harris won without a runoff, while Nelson defeated Murphy in a second round of balloting. Harris was No.1 on the original list, Nelson No. 2, Petraborg No. 4, and Murphy No. 20.
McSorley spent 25 years at Oxnard’s England, Whitfield, Schroeder and Tredway, practicing criminal and family law and doing business litigation, before establishing his own practice. He is also a disability retirement hearing officer for Santa Barbara and San Bernardino counties.
McSorley said he applied for the commissioner position, despite a lack of significant ties to the Los Angeles judges who voted on the appointment, because he has not been able to obtain one of the small number of commissioner positions available in his home county and because he is “very impressed by the quality of the court.”
He currently lives in Ventura County but said Friday he plans to relocate once he knows where he will be assigned. He noted that he has one daughter living in Burbank and another in Brentwood.
If he does not win the runoff, Petraborg would be the No. 1 candidate on the list for the next vacancy. But if the referee—who now sits in juvenile court—prevails next month, the top spot on the list will go to Harvey A. Silberman, who works for San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services in Pacoima.
Rankings Not Binding
As Murphy’s situation indicates, judges are not bound by the rankings. But no candidate has been elected out of ranked order since the previous list was established in 2001.
The ranked order of candidates, after Silberman, is Referee Anthony Trendacota, Munger, Tolles & Olson staff counsel Anthony B. Drewry, Referee Steff Padilla, Santa Monica attorney James N. Bianco, Century City attorney H. Jay Ford III, Referee Pamela A. Davis, Lancaster attorney and former judicial candidate David Bianchi, Court of Appeal attorney Mary Lou Katz, Alliance for Children’s Rights attorney Amy M. Pellman, Los Angeles attorney Graciela Freixes, Santa Monica lawyer Susan Weiss, Referee Alan H. Friedenthal, Los Angeles attorney David J. Cowan, Long Beach attorney Tamila Ipema, Murphy, former Refeee Laura Hymowitz, Referee Daniel Zeke Zeidler, Covina attorney Rocky Lee Crabb, and former Referee Joel Wallenstein.
They are followed by Deputy County Counsel Catherine Pratt, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Zuzga, Deputy District Attorney Lori-Ann Jones, Los Angeles attorney Robert Harrison, Referee Stephen Marpet, Deputy District Attorney Lia R. Martin, Los Angeles attorney Paul Ted Suzuki, Manhattan Beach attorney Michele Flurer, Deputy District Attorney William J. Woods, Los Angeles attorney Adrienne L. Krikorian, and Referee Jacqueline H. Lewis.
Zeidler and Jones are both in November runoffs for open seats as Los Angeles Superior Court judges.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company