Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, January 4, 2006


Page 1


Superior Court Judge Murphy Draws Potential Challenger


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


A Woodland Hills attorney has taken out papers to run for the Los Angeles Superior Court seat of Judge Mary Ann Murphy.

Stephen H. Beecher, 54, received forms from the Registrar/Recorder’s Office Friday to begin the process of seeking the 5,967 signatures needed to qualify without paying a filing fee.

Those petitions are due Feb. 23. Candidates, whether qualifying by fee or signatures, must file the candidate’s oath and other nominating documents between Feb. 13 and March 10 in order to qualify for the June 6 primary.

Beecher, a University of West Los Angeles School of Law graduate and 1988 admittee to the State Bar, could not be reached for comment. Sources said he practices business and tort litigation and bankruptcy.

Beecher was an unsuccessful candidate for the State Bar Board of Governors in 1996, losing to Judith Gilbert. In his candidate statement, he cited his background as a credit manager for 12 years in two manufacturing businesses and his experience as a sole practitioner as qualification for the board.

Murphy, 52, said she does not know Beecher, but is “very comfortable” about surviving what would be her first election challenge after 12 years on the bench.

‘Unblemished Record’

The judge said she has an “unblemished record” and “works very hard,” in and out of the courtroom. She noted that she was for several years an associate editor of the Brown and Weil treatise on pre-trial civil procedure, is currently president of the Irish-American Bar Association, chaired the court’s Media Committee and served on several other committees, was elected by her peers to three terms on the court’s Executive Committee, and has taught judges and been a panelist for continuing education programs sponsored by several bar associations.

Three other non-incumbents have taken out signature-in-lieu papers for various judicial seats.

Richard A. Nixon of North Hills took out papers for the seats now held by Judges Michael E. Knight, Richard G. Kolostian, John P. Farrell, Burt Pines, and Melvin Sandvig.(A candidate need not commit to a specific race until the nomination documents are filed.)

Knight and Kolostian are retiring next month, during the filing period. It is possible that the governor would appoint their successors, who could then run as incumbents, prior to the March 10 filing deadline.

Encino attorney Stephen M. Feldman took out papers to run for the Knight seat, while Robert Davenport of Los Angeles took out papers for Kolostian’s seat and that of Judge John Reid.

Hoping for Open Seats

Both Feldman, a practitioner since 1981, and Davenport, a member of the California bar since 1987, said they did not want to run against an incumbent judge. Feldman speculated that the governor might leave the Knight seat unfilled, while Davenport said he heard a rumor that Reid might not run.

Reid could not be reached for comment late yesterday on his plans.

Feldman said he hoped to seek an open seat because he has the necessary experience and has “always wanted to be a judge.”  If elected, he said, he would run a “user-friendly” courtroom and seek to avoid unnecessary costs to litigants, such as by trying to resolve motions out of court through the early, online posting of tentative rulings.

He is primarily a business and real estate litigator, he told the MetNews.

Davenport, who began his legal career in New York in 1979, has not practiced in California courts. He worked in the entertainment industry for a number of years, and now earns his living as an author.

His best-known work, he said, is “Roots of the Rich and Famous,” a book tracing the genealogy of a number of celebrities.

Feldman and Davenport said they do not expect to spend a great deal of money on their campaigns, although Feldman said he was looking into the possibility of hiring a consultant, which Davenport said he definitely would not do.


Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company