Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Referee Dennis Carroll Elected Superior Court Commissioner
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Dennis W. Carroll has been elected the court’s newest commissioner.
Carroll, a referee for eight years, told the MetNews yesterday that he had been notified Friday of his election by the court’s judges. He said he expects to be sworn in next week.
Saying he enjoyed his time as a referee, Carroll said he looks forward to serving as a commissioner and that one of his priorities is making sure that the judicial system addresses the needs of children and treats parents with fairness and respect, particularly when child support is at issue.
“It is extremely important that everyone’s interest be considered, and that kids receive what the law accords,” he said.
Carroll, 65, first started hearing matters in Children’s Court as an as-needed referee in 1999, then also began hearing juvenile delinquency and child support matters in 2000.
Prior to serving as a referee, he worked for one year in the Los Angeles County Bureau of Family Support Operations, which at that time was under the jurisdiction of the district attorney. He practiced privately as an attorney in Long Beach for 10 years, beginning in 1988, handling mainly criminal and some civil matters, and worked for 18 years in the office of the Los Angeles County Public Defender.
He also represented the Fourth District on the Long Beach City Council from 2000 to 2004.
Carroll completed his undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1963, and graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 1966. After law school, he served as a judge advocate general in the U.S. Air Force until 1970, when he joined the Public Defender’s Office.
Carroll is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and a former member of the Long Beach Bar Association.
When asked about his future plans, Carroll said that he intends to stay at his current position for some time, and does not plan to seek a judgeship.
“I am happy being a commissioner,” he said.
Carroll replaces Commissioner Melissa Widdifield, who was appointed to a judgeship on the Los Angeles Superior Court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug. 20.
There are nearly 150 Los Angeles Superior Court commissioners, more than the total number of bench officers on most other California courts. A bill now pending in the state Senate, AB 159—which passed the Assembly earlier this year—would convert up to 162 commissioner and referee positions statewide to judgeships, at the rate of no more than 16 per year, as they became vacant.
Commissioners, who are given the power to hear and make decisions in certain kinds of legal matters, are elected by judges from a list of candidates nominated by a court panel. Candidates must have been admitted to practice law in California for at least 10 years.
Although judges are not required to elect the highest-ranked candidates, in practice, the ranked order has been followed in every election for the past several years.
Following Carroll’s election, 28 candidates remain on the candidates list in the following ranked order:
Morrison & Foerster partner B. Scott Silverman; Deputy Alternate Public Defender Sharon L. Miller; Westside attorney Alan Rubin of Rubin & Adelson; Referee Jacqueline Lewis; Superior Court probate clearing attorney Robert S. Wada; Referee Steven Berman; Long Beach attorney Michael Pearce of Wise Pearce Yocis & Smith; and Sonneschein, Nath & Rosenthal partner Lloyd Loomis.
Also Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jon R. Takasugi; Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Matthew C. St. George; Deputy Public Defender Kenneth H. Taylor; William V. McTaggart Jr., a professional mediator and former partner at Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara & Samuelian; Stephen M. Lowry of the downtown Los Angeles firm of Russo & Lowry; Los Angeles attorney Michael Shultz; Deputy Public Defender Nancy Pogue; Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Inspector General Nicole Bershon; Children’s Law Center attorney Emma Castro; Deputy District Attorney Eloise Phillips, Michael R. Diliberto, president of Advantage Arbitration and Mediation Services, LLC; Deputy District Attorney Arunas A. Sodonis; Los Angeles attorney Faith Mitchell; Referee Shep Zebberman; Lancaster attorney William A. Clark; Richard L. Bissetti, an associate at Century City’s Magana, Cathcart & McCarthy; Downey criminal defense lawyer Michael LaPan; Hawthorne Deputy City Attorney Robert Kim; Deputy Public Defender Lisa Brackelmanns; and Deputy District Attorney Renee Korn.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company