Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Judge Jack P. Hunt to Retire, Backs Commissioner as Successor
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jack P. Hunt said yesterday that he plans to step down from the bench after 22 years, and that he has endorsed Commissioner Rocky L. Crabb’s bid to become his successor.
Hunt, 63 said that he expects to step down July 31. He previously took out forms to solicit signatures to run for another term, but said yesterday that he changed his mind and decided to retire after talking to his family and deciding to go “in a different direction.”
Noting that he would be eligible for retirement, Hunt said that he was stepping down because he would not be eligible for appointment to any state, county or city positions if he remained a judicial officer. Although he said he had no plans to seek any specific appointments, he said that he wanted to “leave all of my options open.”
Hunt said that he may sit by assignment, but that it was not his goal. Instead, he said, he plans to travel and do more woodworking.
Hunt first took the bench in 1986 after he was elected a Pomona Municipal Court commissioner. Then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him a judge of that court in 1988, and he became a Los Angeles Superior Court judge when the position was converted in 2000.
Born in Arkansas, Hunt traveled with his family to California while still an infant, and graduated from Sylmar High School in 1963.
After high school, he served with the U.S. Army in Korea from 1966 to 1967, advancing from the rank of private to sergeant, and later became a deputy marshal with the Los Angeles County Marshall’s Department in 1970.
He joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as an investigator in 1974, and while there graduated from Woodland University, Mid Valley College of Law in Van Nuys in 1976. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1976, and became a deputy district attorney in 1977.
Hunt left the office in 1980 and opened his own practice, specializing in criminal law, in Pomona and was also affiliated with the firm of Novell & Hunt in West Covina before becoming a commissioner.
He said that he was endorsing Crabb because he had known Crabb for more than 20 years as an attorney, and for the past two years as a colleague on the court. Remarking that Crabb had his “full support and strongest endorsement,” Hunt said of Crabb that “I cannot think of a better qualified person to take my seat when I retire.”
Steel Plant Worker
Crabb, 52, was elected a commissioner in 2005. Born and raised in Southern California, he put himself through college by working at the Kaiser Steel Plant in Fontana, attending Riverside City College for two years and later graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 1977.
Setting aside his goal of becoming a police officer, he graduated from Loyola Law School in 1980 and was admitted to the State Bar of California that year.
Crabb practiced as a sole practitioner in Los Angeles County for 25 years, handling criminal and juvenile defense cases in his early years, and civil and business litigation, personal injury/consumer law, and family law in the years leading up to his election as commissioner.
As a commissioner, Crabb was initially assigned to a traffic and small claims appeals calendar, but for the past two years has been assigned to a general family law calendar, a role he said he enjoys.
“I love this job,” he commented.
“I work with a talented group of people, and family law gives me the opportunity to consider a broad range of legal issues, from business and financial matters, to custody and visitation conflicts, to domestic violence prevention, and everything in between,” he explained “There is a feeling of satisfaction knowing that you have the chance to make a difference in the lives of the people who come to court.”
Crabb disclosed that the governor had sent his name to the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, and that 22 judges in the East District have sent letters of support to the commission.
Crabb said that he wanted to be a judge because of the opportunities it would give him to try other types of cases. Although he said that he was content with his current position, Crabb said that he knew that he would want to do more in the future, and noted that there was “little hope” of him hearing any felony cases or conducting a significant civil jury trial in his current position.
Crabb said he secured Hunt’s endorsement after approaching the judge about his future plans, and said that Hunt encouraged him to run for the seat after the judge informed Crabb of his decision to retire.
Crabb indicated that he will be retaining a campaign consultant for the race, but that he has not yet decided who that will be. He also said that he has set aside $150,000 for his campaign and is prepared to spend “whatever it takes” to win the seat.
In other news, confusion surrounded whether Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tracy A. Grant would be running for her seat.
Grant has thus far not filed a declaration of intent to retain her seat, and her clerk told the MetNews yesterday that she would be releasing a statement regarding the election to the media through the court’s Public Information Office. However, as of the close of business on Monday, the office said that it had received no such statement from Grant.
Adding to the confusion, Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman also pulled papers Monday to file a declaration of intention with respect to the seat, but had not filed the declaration as of the end of the day. Silberman previously filed a declaration of intention with respect to the seat being vacated by Judge Dzintra I. Janavs.
Also, Judge Ray Jurado filed his declaration of intent yesterday, leaving Judge Joseph DiLoreto as the only incumbent who had taken out his declaration of intent but not returned it, with tomorrow being the deadline.
If Grant does not run, there will be at least 10 open seats on the June 3 ballot.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company