Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Balloting Underway for Three Commissioner Positions
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Ballots were sent to Los Angeles Superior Court judges Friday, as the court began the process of filling three vacancies in the office of commissioner, a court spokesperson said.
Ballots are due back July 21, with results to be announced the next day, the spokesperson explained.
The three new commissioners will succeed Martha Bellinger and Roger Ito, whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed as judges last month, and Commissioner Preciliano Recendez, who died June 14.
The new round of voting follows last week’s election of Amy M. Pellman, legal director of the Alliance for Children’s Rights, to succeed Commissioner Guillermina Byrne, who retired.
Pellman was the top candidate on the ballot, based upon rankings by a judicial panel. The rankings are not binding on the voting judges, but have been consistently followed for the past several years.
The top-ranked candidates in the new round of voting are Los Angeles attorney Graciela Freixes, Santa Monica attorney Susan Weiss, and Los Angeles attorney and as-needed Referee Alan H. Friedenthal.
The election will likely be followed immediately by another, as Commissioner Patricia G. Schwartz is retiring July 18.
The balance of the field of candidates consists of Los Angeles attorney David J. Cowan; Long Beach attorney Tamila Ipema; retired Municipal Court Commissioner John Murphy; former Referee Laura Hymowitz; Covina attorney Rocky Lee Crabb; Joel Wallenstein, a former referee who now works for the State Compensation Insurance Fund; 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.
The newest commissioner-elect, Pellman, 44, said Friday she will be sworn in July 22 and does not know where she will be assigned. She said she would love to serve in dependency court—she worked for Dependency Court Legal Services for seven years before joining the ACR, where she advocated for impoverished children in foster care, in need of health care, or dealing with disabilities —but “would be honored to serve anywhere they send me.”
Pellman was honored by the American Bar Association two years ago for her work on behalf of children, receiving the 2003 Child Advocacy Award presented annually by the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s Children and the Law Committee and the Center on Children and the Law.
She served as lead counsel in Alliance for Children’s Rights v. Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (2002) 95 Cal. App. 4th 1129, in which the court upheld an order barring the Department of Children and Family Services from issuing visitation waivers without prior approval by a dependency court bench officer.
The ACR successfully argued that the department was routinely waiving the requirement that social workers visit foster children at least monthly, solely to reduce caseloads.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company