Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, January 18, 2008


Page 1


Judge Chalfant to Replace Janavs in Writs and Receivers




Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant will replace Judge Dzintra Janavs in one of the court’s two Writs and Receivers departments effective Feb. 1, Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger said yesterday.

Czuleger told the MetNews that he asked Chalfant to take on the “very tough assignment” after considering several possibilities. He said he has been mulling candidates since learning in early December that Janavs, who has sat in Department 85 since August 1999, will be retiring.

Chalfant, 54, “really has been a heavy lifter while in Central Civil,” Czuleger said. “He’s respected by the bar and he’s very intelligent.”

The presiding judge said he was particularly impressed with Chalfant’s handling of “very difficult, very demanding” cases under the California Environmental Quality Act, which involve complex issues and lengthy records. The writs and receivers judges, he noted, must handle complicated matters, including review of administrative records, with limited staff assistance and “pretty quick turnaround times.”

Chalfant said he has had several conversations with Janavs and expects a smooth transition. Since both departments have longstanding and identical procedures, he said, practitioners should not expect any major changes in how the court is run.

He said he was looking forward to the new assignment.

“It’s an intellectually challenging job,” he explained. “The legal issues are different from trial court legal issues, you’re reviewing records rather than taking testimony, so it’s similar to an appellate position....And I like to write.”

Chalfant is a graduate  of Pomona College and Boalt Hall School of Law. He joined Sidley & Austin as an associate in 1979, moved to Irell & Manella in 1980, and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California  in 1982.

He joined the Beverly Hills firm then known as Hochman, Salkin & DeRoy from 1986 to 1988. He was later a partner with McCambridge, Deixler, Marmaro & Goldberg, leaving in 1995 to establish a solo practice.

Then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1996 and elevated him to the Superior Court  two years later.

Perhaps his best known case is one in which he threw out a $78 million verdict against a firm controlled by the family of William Simon, who at the time was the Republican candidate for governor. Simon lost to then-Gov. Gray Davis two months later, although the ruling was credited by some observers with enabling Simon to run a closer-than-expected race.

His name is one of many that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has sent to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation for consideration as possible appointees to the Court of Appeal.

Janavs’ last day on the bench will be Jan. 31; she will then take accrued leave until her official retirement date in March. Her successor will be elected in either the June primary or the November general election.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company