Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Services Set Thursday for Ann Stodden, Retired Probate Commissioner
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Funeral services are scheduled Thursday for Ann Stodden, retired probate commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Stodden died Friday at the age of 76. She retired from the court in 1993 but subsequently worked as a private judge and as a volunteer probate attorney in the Pasadena courthouse.
The Butte, Mont. native was hired as a commissioner on the court in 1975 after serving as a probate examiner/attorney and as an assistant supervising probate attorney since 1960.
She spent her entire career as a commissioner in the probate court, supervising the probate attorneys, conducting voluntary settlement conferences, and acting as a hearing officer.
Probate specialist Matthew “Sandy” Rae of Darling, Hall & Rae expressed sadness at her passing. “All of us in the probate bar knew her well,” he told the MetNews. “She was a superb leader during the years she was working for the court.”
Stodden’s family moved to San Gabriel when she was a child. She received her undergraduate degree from USC in 1948 and her law degree from USC in 1951.
She was admitted to the State Bar in 1952 and worked for three years as an assistant trust attorney for the Bank of America, then left to practice real estate law with the firm of McCutchen, Black, Harnagel & Shea. She was there five years before going to work for the court.
Phyllis Cardoza, who worked in the probate field as an independent legal assistant for a number of years before retiring two years ago, said Stodden was enormously dedicated to her work. “It was a very difficult job and she seemed to be under a lot of pressure,” Cardoza said, but Stodden stuck with it, year after year.
Cardoza recalled Stodden as having been quite tolerant of the paralegal’s infant, whom Cardoza would bring to the courthouse when she came to clear probate notes. When Cardoza formed the Los Angeles Parlegal Association in 1975, she explained, Stodden was quite supportive and came about once a year to speak to the group.
Stodden also taught probate procedure to aspiring paralegals at UCLA.
Cardoza recalled that once attorneys realized that paralegals were clearing probate notes, many of them assigned their secretaries to do it, and the secretaries would call themselves paralegals—no government agency certifies paralegals, Cardoza explained—but it tended not to work with Stodden.
“She could ferret out the ones who didn’t know what they were talking about,” Cardoza recalled.
. Cardoza also credited Stodden for her work with the California Law Revision Commission in the mid-1980s in revising the Probate Code.
“The legislators thought it would take no more than one or two years to do this,” Cardoza recalled. “It ended up taking five years.”
Stodden co-authored the California Probate Code Forms books by West Publishing, and was also active in continuing education of the bar and paralegal education programs. She served on the executive committee of the State Bar’s probate section and more recently acted as an advisor to the group.
In 1986 she received the County Bar’s Arthur K. Marshall award honoring her for her service to lawyers in the probate bar.
Thursday’s services are scheduled for 2 p.m. at San Gabriel Cemetery, 601 W. Roses Rd. in San Gabriel. A reception will be held following the services at Church of Our Savior’s Cleaver Hall.
The church shares a parking lot with the cemetery and is located at 535 W. Roses Rd.
Survivors include Stodden’s husband, Edward Mayer.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company