Monday, January 30, 2006
Prosecutor Cynthia Zuzga Elected Superior Court Commissioner
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Zuzga has scheduled a Feb. 17 swearing-in as the Los Angeles Superior Court’s newest commissioner, the prosecutor confirmed Friday.
“They offered me the position [Thursday], and I accepted,” she told the MetNews. Judge Clifford Klein is to administer the oath in Department 95, the mental health courtroom where Zuzga has been working for the past three years.
Zuzga, 51, was the highest-ranked candidate on the list of potential commissioners voted on by the court’s judges in balloting that ended last week. She will be the second new commissioner this year, after Catherine Pratt, a former deputy county counsel who joined the court Jan. 5.
Zuzga has been a deputy district attorney since 1984, and has had a long list of assignments, she recounted Friday.
She has prosecuted hardcore gang members, sex crime defendants, and alleged participants in financial fraud; held general felony assignments in Long Beach, Compton, and downtown Los Angeles, as well as a misdemeanor post in Downey; and was assigned to the Eastlake juvenile court facility before moving to mental health.
She also prosecuted elder abuse cases and was the district attorney’s representative on the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City Fiduciary Abuse Specialist Team, on which legal, law enforcement, mental health, gerontology, and financial services professionals work together on ways to protect senior citizens from being victimized.
The commissioner-elect also worked on anti-gang civil injunction cases, including a successful action against the West Coast Crips, establishing nighttime curfews for members of the gang and barring them from using pagers, cell phones, or walkie-talkies within a 50-block area of North Long Beach.
Zuzga said the gang was responsible for numerous drug sales, drive-by shootings, burglaries, car thefts and robberies.
The soon-to-be commissioner is a native of Michigan, having graduated from Michigan State University and Detroit College of Law. The law school, which at the time was located in downtown Detroit “next to the house of prostitution,” Zuzga quipped, later merged with Michigan State and is now in East Lansing.
Zuzga said she came to California in law school to take advantage of the weather, and because she had a sister who lived here and was considering a career in international business law. She quickly abandoned that interest, she said, after she spoke to some lawyers in the field and realized the work was far more mundane than she had believed.
After working for a sole practitioner for a short time, she said, she accepted the district attorney’s offer of employment, and has never regretted the choice. She applied for the commissioner post, she said, because she had “done pretty much everything I wanted to do” as a courtroom prosecutor and had no desire to seek an administrative post within the office.
Another commissioner election is expected next month, after Commissioner Mark Weiss retires, although no date has been set, a court spokesperson said. The remaining candidates on the list from which the commissioner will be chosen are, in ranked order, Deputy District Attorney Lori-Ann Jones, Los Angeles attorney Robert Harrison, Referee Stephen Marpet, Deputy District Attorney Lia R. Martin, Los Angeles attorney Paul Ted Suzuki, Manhattan Beach attorney Michele Flurer, Deputy District Attorney William J. Woods, Los Angeles attorney Adrienne L. Krikorian, and Referee Jacqueline H. Lewis.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company