Commissioner Ziskrout to Retire After Nearly Four Decades on Bench
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner David Ziskrout said yesterday he will retire at the end of the year, capping a career of nearly 38 years on the local bench.
“It just seems like the right time to let someone else come in and make their mark,” Ziskrout, 70, explained, noting that he has sat for 28 years in the mental health court after beginning his career with a 10-year stint in juvenile court.
Ziskrout was a referee from 1968 until 1970, and has been a commissioner ever since. He said he will miss the work that he has been doing since 1978, confronting what many see as “the backwater area” of mental health law.
“I’m very grateful for having had the opportunity to work in this court,” he told the MetNews.
The commissioner said he had no specific plans for retirement, but would like to pursue other interests “before the grim reaper makes his appearance.” He said he plans to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, who live in different parts of the country, and expects to have “some involvement” with juvenile and/or mental health law.
He said he would consider sitting on assignment if invited to do so.
His longtime posting to the mental health court, he said, is “something that gave me a great deal of satisfaction.” In addition to “helping some people,” he said, he had become friends with numerous lawyers and staff members and worked with some excellent judges.
He praised Judge Rafael Ongkeko, who is leaving after two years as the supervising judge of mental health, and his predecessor, Judge John Wiley. The two were “both super judges” and “the most wonderful colleagues,” and kept the court running smoothly after long-time Supervising Judge Harold Shabo retired, Ziskrout said.
Ziskrout is a Los Angeles native who graduated from Manual Arts High School, USC and UCLA School of Law. He entered law practice in 1963, joining the office of his uncle, Abraham Gorenfeld, who later became a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner himself.
Gorenfeld, who served into his 80s and died four years ago, was a major career influence, Ziskrout said. If it had not been for his uncle’s example, the commissioner — who lists carpentry among his hobbies — made have made his living as a builder, he said.
Ziskrout ran for Superior Court judge in 1982, losing a runoff to Coleman Swart. But he said he didn’t apply for an appointment after that and has no regrets about not having secured a judgeship.
“I just was blessed to be here [in mental health court] all these years and try to make some sort of difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company