Monday, January 8, 2007
Retired Judge Judson Morris Reopens Assault on Former Colleague
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judson Morris said Friday the MetNews article last Tuesday reporting his departure from the bench understated his reasons for publicly opposing the reelection in 1996 of a Pasadena Municipal Court colleague, Elvira Mitchell.
Tuesday’s article recounted:
“Morris said at the time that he found Mitchell difficult to work with....”
That’s too mildly stated, he protested by telephone.
Working with Mitchell “was unbearable,” Morris said, asserting:
“She was exhibiting, literally, psychotic behavior.”
Morris said that at one point, he “had to take over” 77 percent of Mitchell’s cases because she had bungled the handling of them.
“She unilaterally fired our court administrator one time,” he brought to mind.
Morris also recalled Mitchell firing her court reporter after berating her in front of other staff members, accusing her of betrayal. The act of alleged disloyalty was filling in for about half an hour in the courtroom of a judge with whom Mitchell was feuding, on a day Mitchell had left early, he said.
Had Mitchell not been defeated, Morris related, he and the other judges on that court would have been looking for other jobs.
As it happened, Mitchell lost the race to Fred Rotenberg who, like Morris, became a Superior Court judge when the courts were unified in 2000. Rotenberg remains a member of the court.
Mitchell has been on inactive bar status since 2003. A telephone call placed to her residence was not returned Friday.
Publicly opposing Mitchell, even though she is black and a woman, was the “bravest” thing he did in his 42-year career in law, Morris said.
“I was accused of being a racist and a sexist,” he reported, adding:
“I had a couple of death threats.”
The former judge noted he is a lifetime member of the NAACP.
As recently as a week ago, Morris said, a judge queried him as to why he had opposed reelection of another judge.
He said has taken “heat” over his election stance and wanted to make clear that his reasons for supporting Rotenberg went far deeper than Mitchell being “difficult to work with.”
The retired jurist said the MetNews correctly sized up the situation in its 1996 editorial endorsing Rotenberg. The editorial said, in part:
“[Mitchell] is openly hostile toward colleagues on the Pasadena bench. They gang up on her, according to Mitchell, and mistreat her.
“The problem is that she is paranoid and insufferable. She fails to manage her calendar competently, and colleagues wind up doing the work that Mitchell should be doing.”
Morris noted that he is not retired but is “just changing careers,” announcing he has hired an agent and will become an actor. He has been taking commercial acting classes, he said, and has joined the Screen Actors Guild.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company