Thursday, December 9, 2004
Superior Court Commissioner Roberta Kyman Dead at 62
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Funeral services are expected to be held next week for Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Roberta H. Kyman, who died Tuesday night at age 62.
Kyman, who primarily heard traffic and small claims cases at the Santa Monica courthouse, suffered a massive coronary at her home and could not be revived at St. John’s Hospital, West District Supervising Judge Linda Lefkowitz told the MetNews.
The commissioner had been working lately and seemed to be in good health except for a persistent cough, Lefkowitz explained, but had called in sick Tuesday morning with what she said was the flu.
While the work of a traffic and small claims judge may not sound particularly exciting, Lefkowitz commented, “it’s an exercise in how you relate to people.” And Kyman was good at it, the supervising judge added.
“I never had a complaint against her,” Lefkowitz said.
One of her small-claims cases actually drew national publicity earlier this year. In April, she awarded $324 to singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins, who sued after three advance copies of her CD “Wilderness” were sold on the Internet.
Hawkins called her win a small blow to piracy and said she would return the money to the purchasers.
Kyman also filled in for absent judges in high-volume criminal courts in Santa Monica and at the Airport Courthouse. She was so good at that work, despite not having a criminal law background, that “she surprised even herself,” Lefkowitz said.
Among her higher-profile criminal cases were those of comedian Paula Poundstone, who was arraigned in her court on child abuse charges and ordered to stay away from minors unless other adults were present, and Pacific Palisades attorney Cheryl Chadwick, whom Kyman sentenced to 120 days of house arrest and banned from talking on a cell phone while driving.
Chadwick was convicted of two counts of misdemeanor manslaughter after her car struck and killed two elderly women. Police said she was talking on her cell phone at the time of the accident, which Chadwick denied.
Kyman was a regular attendee at the Santa Monica judges’ Friday morning breakfasts, on one occasion treating the entire group to the buffet at the Doubletree Inn near the courthouse, Lefkowitz recalled.
Airport Courthouse Supervising Judge James Brandlin called Kyman “a true asset” to that facility. “She had a passion for drug court cases and she performed marvelously,” Brandlin said.
“Her passing is certainly a blow to us and she will be sorely missed,” he added.
Kyman, a graduate of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, was admitted to the bar in 1979. She was an in-house corporate lawyer before joining the Superior Court as a juvenile traffic court referee in 1992.
She was named to the Santa Monica Municipal Court as a commissioner in 1997 following the retirement of David Durst, and became a Superior Court commissioner through unification.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company