Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 14, 2005


Page 1


Superior Court Judge Sandoz to Retire Next Year


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John H. Sandoz said Thursday he will retire next year.

The jurist, 72, told the MetNews he has no plans “other than to rest and relax for awhile.” He may sit by assignment, he said, but has no interest in private judging or returning to law practice.

The judge said he has not settled on a date to step down, but is waiting to see how long it takes “to get everything together” in terms of his workload. He is currently the assistant supervising judge in the family law courts downtown, where he has sat as commissioner and judge for 25 years.

Sandoz is a native of Houston, Tex. but grew up in Los Angeles, earning his undergraduate degree from UCLA in 1955 and his law degree from USC in 1970. In between, he served two years in the Army, then put his military experience and mathematics degree to use as a civilian mathematician.

He worked for the federal government at White Sands missile test base in New Mexico from 1958 to 1960, then joined Ford Motor Company’s aerospace division in Newport Beach, where he worked until 1967.

Law Practice

Following law school, he spent a year at a legal services office in Watts as a Reginald Heber Smith fellow, then went into private practice in Los Angeles, first alone and later with partners. His major practice areas were family law, probate, business law and general civil matters.

He also served as director of legal services at USC from 1975 until his appointment as commissioner in 1981.

Then-Gov. Pete Wilson made him a judge in 1995.

In one of his most publicized cases, he awarded custody of a 5-year-old boy to his mother and allowed her to return with him to her native Israel, rejecting the father’s claim that the country was too dangerous.

In a 2003 ruling, the Court of Appeal’s Div. Eight largely upheld the decision, although it required the mother to post a bond before leaving the country and to stipulate to the continuing jurisdiction of the state’s courts.

Yuval Abargil’s parents, both Israeli citizens, came to the United States several years apart and married in 1994. Both were tourists who had overstayed their visas.

They separated in March 2000, and Michal Abargil, with her husband’s consent, took the child with her to Israel a short time later, remaining there to take care of her dying mother. While they were there, Aharon Abargil filed for divorce and asked for custody.

Michal Abargil attempted to return after her mother’s death, but because she had left the country without trying to regularize her status, she was denied a reentry visa and barred from the United States for 10 years.

She was, however, able to obtain temporary approval to return for the limited purpose of litigating custody.

Custody Battle

Sandoz awarded custody to the mother after a five-day trial, but the father moved to reconsider, noting that violence in Israel had escalated shortly after the trial was concluded, to the point where travel advisories had been issued by the U.S. government and the University of California, among other institutions, had recalled all of its students studying there.

The judge denied the motion, saying the issue of security in Israel had been thoroughly litigated at trial. Sandoz reiterated his conclusion that the balance of factors, including the relative safety of the area where the mother intended to liveóthe suburbs north of Tel Avivó supported the mother’s request.

The Court of Appeal said there was substantial evidence to support Sandoz’s conclusions as to the security question and the other issues raised by the father, including the effect of the move on the father-son relationship.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company