Los Angeles Superior Court Names Three as Commissioners
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles attorney Paul Ted Suzuki, corporate counsel Michele Flurer, and Deputy District Attorney Lia R. Martin have been elected commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court, officials said Friday.
The three were elected in voting by the court’s judges to succeed Commissioners H. Ronald Hauptmann, who retired March 21; Paul Enright, who retired March 30; and Richard Hughes, who retired March 31. They finished ahead of Deputy District Attorney William J. Woods, Los Angeles attorney Adrienne L. Krikorian, and Referee Jacqueline H. Lewis, the only ones remaining on a list of 35 candidates nominated by the court’s evaluating panel in 2004.
All of the other candidates on the list are now serving as commissioners or judges.
Suzuki, 58, is an East Los Angeles native who graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1974. He said he anticipates taking the bench June 1 after finishing up his work at the mid-Wilshire firm of Suzuki and Ito, but does not yet know where he will be sitting.
He and a law school friend, Ronald Ito, started the firm in the late 1970s, after Suzuki had worked for poverty law agencies in Riverside and Long Beach for three years. The firm’s practice largely involves, business, real estate, and tort cases.
He told the MetNews he was looking forward to the shift from advocate to adjudicator. “I think that this is an opportunity to do something in the form of service to the community, not just to clients,” he said, adding that as a third generation Japanese- American, he considers it important for courts to made up of people of different backgrounds.
His parents and brothers, he noted Friday, were interned at Heart Mountain, Wyo. during World War II, relocating eventually to South Central Los Angeles where he grew up. Caught up in the civil rights activism of the 1960s and 1970s, he organized a pilgrimage to Manzanar, the former internment camp that now houses a museum under the auspices of the National Park Service.
Manzanar, he said, “is a must see place to understand a significant event in legal history and the importance of constitutional rights.” His family’s experiences, he commented, helped form his strong views on the rule of law and the need to treat people equally regardless of their incomes, nationality, or ethnicity.
He is a former president of the Asian Business Association and was appointed by Sen. Barbara Boxer to the advisory committee on selection of federal judicial nominees.
Flurer, 44, is general counsel for AmericanTours International, a wholesale and retail travel operator with offices in Honolulu, Orlando, San Francisco and New York, in addition to the Los Angeles headquarters.
A native of New Jersey, she graduated from UC Irvine in 1983 and Rutgers University School of Law in 1986. She began her legal career at Knapp, Peterson & Clark in Los Angeles in 1986, working on litigation and insurance coverage issues, then worked as a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of Baker & McKenzie from 1989 until 1994, when she took up her present position.
She said she expects to join the court in June, and that she is prepared to take up whatever assignment she is given. She explained that while her employment has all been on the civil side, she has worked for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as a volunteer prosecutor, winning all four of her jury trials, and interned with the Camden County, N.J. Public Defender’s Office, as well as with a judge who heard criminal cases, during law school.
She was motivated to apply for the commissioner’s position, she said, after a number of years as a temporary judge and mediator and arbitrator. She currently serves as a mediator for this district’s Court of Appeal.
Flurer is also a former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers and a former LACBA trustee.
Martin, 40, is a graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law and was admitted to practice in 1992. She is currently assigned to the district attorney’s Alhambra office.
She prosecuted the case against hip-hop artist Steve Kim, charged with shooting a Burbank man to death in 2004. Burbank detectives claimed that the man was a drug dealer who had a “business relationship” with Kim.
The case was dropped, Martin explained in court last year, after blood taken from Kim’s vehicle was found to belong neither to Kim nor to the victim and prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to go forward.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company