Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, January 24, 2005


Page 1


Patti Jo McKay To Be Named Presiding Judge of  Court ‘s Appellate Division as Lee Plans Sabbatical


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Judge Patti Jo McKay will be appointed as the new presiding judge of the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court, a court spokesperson said Friday, replacing Judge Charles Lee.

Lee, who has served as presiding judge since William Beverly Jr. retired two years ago, will be taking a year’s unpaid sabbatical, Presiding Judge William McLaughlin Jr. said. Lee is on vacation and could not be reached for comment, but McLaughlin said the jurist is planning to travel to China and study.

Lee has had a longstanding interest in the Far East. The Vietnam-era veteran—he was stationed in the Phillippines for much of his 31/2 years of service—studied Mandarin in Taipei for two years after being discharged from the Navy in 1972 and was an Olympic envoy to Beijing in 1984.

Lee apparently would be only the second California judge to take advantage of a law which permits a judge, with the Judicial Council’s approval, to take up to a year off without pay or retirement credit to engage in “study which will benefit the administration of justice and the individual’s performance of judicial duties.”

Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana took a leave while serving as a municipal court judge to study for a graduate degree in judicial administration. Recana later served as presiding judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court.

McKay’s appointment as presiding judge of the Appellate Division will not be official until formally made by Chief Justice Ronald M. George.   It is traditional for the chief justice to follow the presiding judge’s recommendation in making such appointments.

McKay is the senior judge with four years in the Appellate Division and will now have administrative responsibility for four judges, and approximately 16 support staff members that make up the division, she said.  Then-Presiding Judge Robert Dukes offered to recommend her appointment as presiding judge when Beverly retired, but McKay deferred to the more senior Lee. 

The Appellate Division handles approximately 1,000 appeals per year from misdemeanor convictions, traffic cases, and civil matters under $25,000 or limited jurisdiction cases. 

Although McKay has served in a number of courtrooms and locations since she was appointed to the bench in 1980,—she was elevated to the Superior Court in 2000 under unification—she has “loved every assignment,” she said. “ I have not had one that I did not like.”


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