Friday, December 7, 2007
Judge S. Patricia Spear to Retire in June
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge S. Patricia Spear has confirmed that she will step down June 3 after almost 20 years on the bench.
Spear, 60, told the MetNews on Wednesday that she has not yet officially turned in her retirement paperwork, but that she decided to retire because “I’m eligible, I’ve worked very hard for 40 years, and I have a lot of other interests.”
She indicated that she hopes to sit on assignment or to do volunteer work in a quasi-legal arena after her retirement, but said that she will not practice privately or sit as a private judge, instead planning to travel, spend time with her husband and family, and “enjoy life.”
Spear was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1990 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in a lateral move from the North (San Diego) County Municipal Court. Deukmejian had appointed Spear, then S. Patricia Rosenbaum, to the San Diego position in 1988, and she was elected in 1990.
However, she requested the transfer to Los Angeles after agreeing to marry attorney Martin J. Spear, who had an established practice here. In a 1990 interview, she told the MetNews that she learned of her appointment when Deukmejian’s appointments secretary called and said “This is Cupid calling.”
Spear’s post in Los Angles was converted to a superior court judgeship in 2000, and she was elected without opposition in 2006. Currently assigned to dependency cases at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, Spear has also presided over general civil and criminal cases during her 17 years on the bench in Los Angeles.
She graduated from Tustin Union High School in 1965, and earned a degree in psychology from UCLA in 1969. She then served for a year as a substitute teacher in Alameda County, and then for a year as a welfare intake eligibility worker in Contra Costa County.
Spear said her decision to become a lawyer was purely the result of opportunity, saying that at one point she had not expected to even graduate from college.
She began attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1971, and while there also worked as a clinical program researcher with the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Legal Services Association.
However, she moved back to California in 1973 to be with her family after her father passed away. She completed her third year of law school at the University of San Diego School of Law, graduating in 1974, and served as a law clerk with the firm of Fisher, Chancer & Ortesky.
Spear was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1974, but before receiving her results took a job as assistant for business affairs at the California School of Professional Psychology in order to support her then-husband, who was attending the school’s Ph.D. program.
In 1976, she became a deputy city attorney in San Diego, serving for four years in the office’s criminal division, and for one year in its civil division. She then became an associate at the San Diego law firm of Stevens & Rosenbuam in 1981, and in 1983 joined the San Diego Trust & Savings Bank as associate legal counsel, where she remained until her first judicial appointment.
Spear served as chair of the California Judges Association its Public Information and Education Committee from 1996 to 1997. She is also an active member of the local Inn of Court, an organization that regularly brings judges, attorneys, law professors and students together to discuss and debate issues relating to legal ethics and professionalism.
Reflecting that the best thing about being a judge was the intellectual challenge and the opportunity to make a difference in the community, she said that a poem that she attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and which she keeps a copy of on her desk, best described her philosophy:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Spear said that her time on the bench has not only taught her a great deal about people, human nature and community relations, but also to have a very broad perspective on all aspects of life, and she hoped that she would be remembered as a “good person.”
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company