Monday, July 25, 2005
Freixes, Weiss, Friedenthal Elected Superior Court Commissioners
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Attorneys Graciela Freixes, Susan K. Weiss, and Alan H. Friedenthal have been elected Los Angeles Superior Court commissioners.
Court officials Friday released the results of mail balloting by the judges. The three were expected to win because they were the top-listed candidates, based on rankings by a judicial panel.
The rankings are not binding on the voting judges, but have been consistently followed for the past several years.
Freixes, 49, has been a civil litigator for the past 24 years, the last 21 in medical malpractice defense after starting her career with an in-house firm for Farmers Insurance Group. She is currently with the firm of Agajanian, McFall, Weiss, Tetreault & Crist, which she joined seven years ago, and teaches part-time in the UCLA Attorney Assistant Training Program.
She said she expects to be sworn in Aug. 22 and be assigned to a department Sept. 1 after completing orientation.
While she would be pleased to hear civil cases, she said, she would be “open to anything” in terms of an assignment. “I’m just excited to be on the bench,” she told the MetNews.
Freixes is a graduate of California State University-Northridge and Loyola Law School. Her husband, attorney Gonzalo Freixes, teaches at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and served six years on the Newhall school board.
Family Law Specialist
Weiss, 57, has spent her career of more than 30 years in family law, in which she was certified as a specialist in 1984. A graduate of Stanford University with a law degree from UCLA, she started as a legal aid lawyer and practiced in dependency court for a time, but has spent most of her career handling matrimonial cases as a sole practitioner in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
She also sat as a family law judge pro tem at the Brunswig Building in Chinatown.
“I’m ready for a new phase,” she said Friday, estimating that it will take her two to three weeks to close out her practice and take the bench. “You have to bring some change into your life every few years or you get burnt out.”
Friedenthal, 49, is a sole practitioner and as-needed Superior Court referee. He said he expects to be sworn in the first week in August and to eventually be assigned to a family law court in San Fernando.
Friedenthal, a graduate of USC and Southwestern University School of Law, became a part-time judicial officer in 1997. His part-time duties, he said, kept him so busy he had to largely withdraw from private practice, making the full-time commissioner’s position that much more inviting.
Friedenthal is a native of Culver City who lived in the San Fernando Valley most of his life. A San Fernando assignment, he noted, would enable him to renew acquaintances with Judge Cynthia Ulfig, a classmate at Taft High School in the early 1970s.
After graduating from law school, he left the state for graduate study in Washington, D.C., then clerked for U.S. District Judge George Revercomb in Washington and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge—now Senior Judge—Melvin Brunetti in Reno, Nev. before returning to Southern California.
As a referee, he hears juvenile dependency, domestic violence, and child support enforcement cases. The inspiration for his applying for that job, he said, was his work as a volunteer special advocate for children in dependency court while an associate at the now-defunct law firm of Shea & Gould.
He took out papers to run for an open Superior Court judgeship in the 2002 elections but ultimately decided not to make the race.
He is married to Commissioner Steff Padilla, who was elected to her post in April, defeating a field of candidates that included her husband, who said he was not upset by that result.
“I’m a very chivalrous gentleman and I believe in the concept of ladies first,” Friedenthal quipped.
The filling of the three seats sets up another election, this time to fill two vacancies created by the recent retirements of Commissioners Patricia G. Schwartz and Robert Zakon.
The candidates in that election, results of which are expected to be announced Aug. 12, are, in ranked order, 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.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company