Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Essegian to Retire, Creating Possible Election Race
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Essegian said yesterday she will not run for re-election, and will retire March 3.
The judge, who was appointed to the old Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1989, said she has made no plans for her retirement.
“I’ve been working since I was a teenager,” the jurist, a relative latecomer to the legal profession, told the MetNews. “I think I’m just going to have a nice rest and find out what it’s like to not have to respond to that 5: 45 alarm clock.”
The retirement of Essegian, who turned 79 last week, means that there are three seats on the court that could be decided by election with no incumbent in the race.
Two other judges, Michael Knight and Richard Kolostian, have also slated retirements for after Feb. 13, the first day for filing nomination papers for the June 6 primary. Filing closes March 10, but is automatically extended five days for other candidates if the incumbent does not file.
Normally, a retirement during the year that the judge’s seat is up for election requires that the election of his or her successor be postponed for two years. But the California Supreme Court held in Stanton v. Panish (1980) 28 Cal.3d 107, that if the incumbent leaves office after another candidate has filed nominating papers, the election will not be postponed.
A native of Boston, Essegian has lived in the Los Angeles area most of her life. She attended college while raising her daughter and working as a credit manager for a medical group and at other jobs.
She was working in the electronics industry, she once told a reporter, when her company decided to move to Orange County and she decided to go to law school rather than make the commute.
She lacked a bachelor’s degree but was admitted to Whittier College School of Law, graduating in 1980. She became a Pasadena deputy city attorney, then a deputy attorney general, handling professional licensing cases for over two years.
She joined the Deukmejian administration in 1983 as deputy director and chief of legal affairs for the Department of Consumer Affairs, leaving in 1987 to set up a solo practice in Burbank as a business lawyer. She left that practice when Deukmejian appointed her to the bench.
Essegian, who became a Superior Court judge when the trial courts were unified in 2000, has spent the bulk of her career hearing misdemeanor cases in Van Nuys.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company