Wednesday, March 17, 2004
State Bar Opens Search for Successor to Retired Judge Niles
Three Incumbents Expected to Seek New Terms on Bench of Body’s Disciplinary Body
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The State Bar has begun a search for a successor to State Bar Court Hearing Judge Alban Niles, who retired last month, a bar spokesperson said yesterday.
Niles, who retired from the Los Angeles Superior Court before then-Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson appointed him to the State Bar post a little over a year ago, retired from the bar court Feb 9.
The State Bar has set an April 16 application deadline for those seeking Niles’ seat. A seven-member committee appointed by the state Supreme Court will issue a list of qualified candidates, with Wesson’s successor, Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, making the final selection for a term that expires Nov. 1, 2008.
Niles told the MetNews yesterday that he left the court to pursue alternative dispute resolution with the American Arbitration Association. The position gives him “more discretionary time,” he explained.
Niles, 70, said he had reached a stage at which he does not need to be “trying to kill myself to make a buck.” He said he gave the court three months’ notice before leaving, although neither he nor the court made a public announcement of his departure.
Niles joined the State Bar Court in January of last year, succeeding Paul Bacigalupo, who was elected to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Niles had retired from the Superior Court in October 2002 after more than 20 years as a judge. He said at the time of his retirement that he had acquired land in Florida and was building a home there.
He still has that plan, he said yesterday, and is thinking of becoming “bicoastal.”
A UCLA law graduate, Niles practiced law in Los Angeles for 19 years before then-Gov. Jerry Brown named him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1982. He was elected to the Superior Court, without opposition, in 1998.
In addition to the search for Niles’ successor, the State Bar Court is soliciting applications for three other positions that are to be filled for full six-year terms beginning Nov. 1.
One of those is a Los Angeles-based hearing judge position now held by Judge Richard Honn, who joined the court two years ago. The appointment will be by the state Supreme Court.
The other seats up for appointment are now held by Review Judge Judith Epstein and Hearing Judge JoAnn M. Remke, both of whom are based in San Francisco. Epstein’s successor will be chosen by the Supreme Court and Remke’s by the Rules Committee of the state Senate.
Reappointment Bids Expected
The judges whose terms are expiring are eligible for reappointment, and the court’s top administrator, Scott Drexel, said he expects all three to reapply. The committee’s goal is to send its evaluations to the appointing authorities by the end of July, Drexel said.
Honn was not available for comment yesterday, but a former State Bar Court judge who now practices before the court said she hoped he would be reappointed.
“He takes each case as a very important case,” JoAnn Earls Robins, now with the firm of Karpman & Associates, said of Honn. Lawyers who appear before the court appreciate his extensive preparation and attention to detail, she said.
Honn was a Los Angeles business attorney and USC lecturer before the justices named him, from a field of over 100 applicants, to fill the seat left vacant by Stanford Reichert’s election as a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company