Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, February 28, 2005


Page 1


Three Judicial Officers to Retire in Coming Weeks


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Two Los Angeles Superior Court judges and a commissioner have scheduled retirement in the next several weeks, the MetNews has learned.

Judge Judith Abrams confirmed Friday that she will officially step down April 30, her 66th birthday, although her last day on the bench will be March 30. It has also been learned that Judge Lorna Parnell is retiring May 4 and Commissioner Steven Leventhal March 31.

“I’m getting old, I want to enjoy the rest of my life,” Abrams quipped. She said she is discussing possible affiliation with a private judging organization and hopes to travel, spend more time at her hobbies—she plays scrabble and bridge and has appeared as a television game show contestant—and develop some new interests.

Abrams was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1986 after three years of services as a commissioner, first of the Los Angeles Municipal Court and then of he Los Angeles Superior Court. She became a Superior Court judge through unification in 2000 and sits in Beverly Hills.

She was a Los Angeles deputy city attorney from 1977 to 1979 and a deputy district attorney from 1979 to 1983.

Abrams, who graduated from Emory University in Atlanta in 1960 and worked part-time as a social worker while raising a daughter, entered University of West Los Angeles School of Law as a single mother in 1973. She once told a reporter she was looking for a career that would allow her to become financially independent.

She graduated from the school, then located in Culver City, in 1977 and joined the City Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.

Her career has “been fabulous,” she said, but she’s looking forward to a more leisurely pace.

Parnell, who turned 60 on Saturday, was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court—where she heard misdemeanor and landlord-tenant cases—by Deukmejian in 1985 and elevated to the Superior Court the following year.

The Indianapolis native graduated from Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Law, then came to Los Angeles to clerk for then-U.S. District Judge Francis C. Whelan of the Central District of California. She later clerked for Senior District Judge William M. Byrne and for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before joining a Los Angeles law firm as an associate.

She eventually became a partner in the Beverly Hills firm of Rifkind and Sterling, specializing in business litigation, and served on the Board of Governors of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

She currently hears civil cases in Santa Monica.

Leventhal, 65, has been a court commissioner since 1977, originally serving the Los Angeles Municipal Court.

He graduated from UCLA in 1960 and from what is now Loyola Law School in 1963, then joined Master Linen Service, a textile rental supply business owned by his father-in-law. He left there to become a deputy city attorney in 1972.

While at the City Attorney’s Office he served as Criminal Division liaison to the Los Angeles Police Department, and he has heard a wide variety of cases as a commissioner, currently sitting in West Los Angeles.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for election as a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge in 1988.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company