Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, December 15, 2005


Page 1


Former Referee Wallenstein to Become Superior Courtís Newest Commissioner


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Former Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Joel Wallenstein is to be sworn in today as the courtís newest commissioner.

Wallenstein was chosen, in balloting that ended last week, to replace Robert Applegate, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a judge of the Superior Court.

He was the highest ranked candidate on the ballot, based on rankings issued by a judicial panel. The rankings are not binding on the courtís judges, but Wallenstein is the 23rd commissioner elected from the list, all in ranked order.

The court is accepting applications, until tomorrow, for places on a new list.

The current list remains in effect until exhausted or revoked by the courtís Executive Committee, and the remaining candidates on that list are 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.

Wallenstein, 44, is a 1982 graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where he majored in history. He played on the schoolís golf team, worked at the Riviera Country Club for a year, and then went to work for the Superior Court as a clerk in the courtroom of then-Superior Court Judge Paul A. Turner, now presiding justice of this districtís Court of Appeal, Div. Five.

He attended University of West Los Angeles School of Law, then located in Culver City, at night and graduated in December 1988. He passed the February 1989 bar exam and was hired as a deputy public defender, handling cases in Compton and Van Nuys.

He was hired as a referee in May 1997, floating from courthouse to courthouse filling in for absent judicial officers until he was assigned to the Los Padrinos juvenile court facility in Downey in January 1998.

A month later, he made what he described as a spur-of-the-moment decision to run for the old Antelope Municipal Court. He was criticized in a local newspaper editorial as a carpetbagger with no ties to the district, in response to which he pointed out that many municipal court judges did not live in their districts and argued that as an outsider, he could be trusted to be impartial.

He finished last in a field of four, polling a little under nine percent of the vote for a seat won by Steven Ogden, now a Superior Court judge in Lancaster.

Wallenstein was among several referees who lost their jobs as part of a 2002 layoff, as the court grappled with a huge budget deficit. Two other victims of that layoff, Laura Hymovitz and David Bianchi, have also returned to the court as commissioners.

Wallenstein subsequently worked for the State Compensation Insurance Fund and most recently for the CalOSHA Appeals Board.


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