Wednesday, January 18, 2006
CJP Slates Hearing on Forced Retirement of Judge Nelson
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance has slated a Feb. 6 hearing on whether to force the retirement of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rodney Nelson.
The hearing, slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Santa Ana location, will take place before a panel of three yet-to-be-appointed special masters.
The commission last month initiated action to force Nelson, who has been a Superior Court judge since 1995 and has been on medical leave since May of last year, to take retired status. The commission said it had taken the rare step because Nelson suffers from “degenerative brain disease” which is, or is likely to become, permanent and which prevents him from performing his judicial duties.
Court officials would not comment, but sources said the judge was advised to take the leave after lawyers told the court administration that he was behaving erratically.
No judge has been ordered retired by the CJP since it was empowered to take that action under a legislative constitutional amendment 15 years ago. Before the amendment, the state Supreme Court could order a judge retired on the CJP’s recommendation.
The high court last took such action against Supreme Court Justice Marshall F. McComb in 1977, finding that the then-82-year-old jurist suffered from “chronic brain syndrome, senile dementia,” and against North San Diego County Municipal Court Judge Charles Robert Roick in 1978.
Nelson, a Minneapolis native who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota and his law degree at Columbia University, was practicing business litigation with his wife as the firm of Nelson & Nelson in West Los Angeles when then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to the court in 1995.
He studied political theory for a year at Stanford before entering law school. He began his legal career in 1960 as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers before moving on to a series of partnerships. He started Nelson & Nelson in 1992 after six years as a partner at Bryan Cave, and was an arbitrator for the Superior Court before his judicial appointment.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company