Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Patricia Nieto Sworn In as Superior Court Commissioner
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Patricia Nieto became the Los Angeles Superior Court’s newest commissioner yesterday after serving for two and a half years as a juvenile delinquency referee.
Nieto, who was notified of her election Thursday, took her oath of office late yesterday in Judge Peter Espinoza’s courtroom in the Criminal Courts Building. Judge Steven Sanora, for whom Nieto worked both while a law student and as a young attorney, presided over the ceremony.
“I think I’m extremely lucky, and I feel very honored that I was selected to be on this current commissioner list,” Nieto told the MetNews.
She replaces Commissioner Terry Adamson, who retired effective June 19.
Though she has not yet been given a permanent assignment, Nieto said she would “love” to stay at the Eastlake Juvenile Court where she has been sitting as a referee.
Nieto, 56, began working for the court as an as-needed referee in 2001 and was given a full-time juvenile delinquency referee assignment in January 2005.
“I was very fortunate that Judge [Michael] Nash asked me to sit as a full-time referee in 2005,” she said. “I thought I could be a role model [to the kids] and also be someone that is able to explain the court process not only to them but to their parents, and make it much more accessible. Most people come in here and they’re very fearful of the process…and I’m able to understand that.”
Prior to serving on the bench, Nieto was in private practice handling mainly juvenile dependency and delinquency matters. From the time she was admitted to the State Bar in 1979 until 1985, she worked in the small general practice law firm then-named Romero, Paz, Rodriguez & Sanora.
She was previously a member of the Mexican American Bar Association, the Juvenile Courts Bar Association, and the National Council of La Raza. She earned her law degree from USC in 1977 and her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 1974.
“Coming from Kansas City and being in Los Angeles, I’m thrilled about this opportunity, because this is one of the biggest court systems in the United States,” the newly elected commissioner said.
Asked whether she had any plans to seek a judgeship, she replied, “I’m quite happy with what I’m doing now.”
Nieto was at the top of the current list of eligible commissioner candidates. In electing commissioners, local rules say, judges are not required to following the panel’s rankings. But Nieto’s election reflects the court’s long-honored tradition of electing commissioners in ranked order.
The list originally contained 38 names, but one of the candidates, Deputy District Attorney Judith Meyer, was elected a judge last June.
Of the remaining 37, former Haight, Brown, & Bonesteel partner Lori Behar and East Los Angeles attorney Bejamin R. Campos were elected commissioners last July. Henry Hall, previously a deputy alternate public defender, became a commissioner this January to succeed Bobbi Tillmon, who took office as a judge at the end of 2005.
Former Deputy Public Defender John Lawson II, Deputy Federal Public Defender Michael Garcia, and Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Munisoglu were selected earlier this month to replace former commissioners John Ing, Graciela Freixes, and Mitchell Beckloff, who were named by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as judges in May.
Following Nieto’s election, the 30 candidates left on the list are, in ranked order:
Referee Dennis Carroll; 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 Public Defender Marguerite Downing, who is also a member of the State Bar Board of Governors; 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