Monday, March 17, 2008
Superior Court Commissioner Albert J. Garcia to Retire
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Albert J. Garcia will retire at the end of this month after 19 years on the bench, a court spokesperson confirmed Friday.
Garcia, 67, has already served his last day, but his official retirement date will be March 31.
He was appointed commissioner by judges of the Superior Court in 1991, but first joined the bench in March of 1989 when he became a part-time juvenile court referee. He became a full time referee later that year.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Garcia came to the United States with his family less than two years later in 1942. He came in California in 1952, and became a U.S. citizen in 1963.
Garcia attended college at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, and later San Fernando State College (now California State University Northridge), where he graduated in 1968.
He taught Spanish for one year at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, and then took a position with Los Angeles County in 1969 as a social worker, where he served until 1973. In 1970, he also began teaching English as a second language in Los Angeles city schools, and continued to do so until 1979.
Garcia returned to school to study law at San Fernando Valley College of Law, Sepulveda (now University of La Verne College of Law at San Fernando Valley, Encino), where he graduated in 1975, and was admitted to the State Bar of California the next year.
He entered private practice in 1977 as a general practitioner with an emphasis on juvenile law, and then became a panel attorney in Pasadena in 1983, where he remained until becoming a referee.
Garcia spent a weekend in jail in 1991 after pleading “no contest” to charges of hit-and-run driving and public intoxication after officers of the Arcadia Police Department who were investigating a report that Garcia had left the scene of an accident and refused to exchange insurance information found him at his home exhibiting “significant symptoms of intoxication.”
The charges ultimately resulted in Garcia being transferred twice to new assignments after then-Captain Dave Hinig objected to Garcia continuing to hear juvenile cases originating in the department’s jurisdiction due to Garcia’s failure to exhibit “neutrality and judicial restraint,” and his “prejudicial and unprofessional” actions when being arrested by the officers. The State Bar also issued Garcia a private reproval with public disclosure in 1992.
In other news, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Gary A. Polinsky stepped down Feb. 20 after 26 years on the bench.
Polinsky, 68, was appointed commissioner by judges of the Superior Court in 1983 after having served as a referee for more than a year.
Born in Duluth, Minn., Polinsky moved with his family to the San Francisco Bay-area at a young age and graduated from San Leandro High School in 1957. He then earned a degree in political science from UC Berkeley in 1962, and enrolled in Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco after receiving a letter from the U.S. Army professing its interest in him.
He graduated in 1965 and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1966.
Polinsky began his legal career with a short stint as corporate counsel for Atron, a division of rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet General, but left later that year to accept a position in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office as a deputy public defender.
Three years later, he left to enter private practice as a general practitioner conducting business and trial work, practicing first as a partner in the firm of Reichmann & Polinsky until 1971, and then later as a sole practitioner.
He became director of SAGE Publications, a publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets, in 1978, and remained with the company until becoming a referee.
In 1988, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the seat on the Los Angeles Municipal Court.
A court official familiar with the process said that the seats of Garcia and Polinsky will be converted to new judgeships under SB 56. Another vacancy, created by the recent retirement of Commissioner Richard Curtis, will remain a commissioner position and will be filled by vote of the court’s judges.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company