Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Page 1


Czuleger Says New Appointees Help, but More Needed


By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointment of four candidates elected in last month’s primary to the Los Angeles Superior Court was helpful, but still leaves the court with 28 seats vacated by previous retirements and judges on long term disability leave, Presiding Judge Stephen Czuleger said yesterday.

Czuleger called the appointments of the four new judges, who would otherwise have had to wait until January to take the bench, a “good start,” but opined that “we need a lot more.” He explained that the court only gets a “net gain” of two judicial officers because two of the four appointees were commissioners whose newly vacated seats are subject to conversion to judgeships.

Gov. Schwarzenegger named James N. Bianco, Kathleen Blanchard, Jared D. Moses and Patricia Nieto to judgeships in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.

Bianco has served as a commissioner since 2005. He previously served as a deputy city attorney with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office before entering private practice.

The 45-year old Democrat attended USC Law School and the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He was elected in June 2008 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Daniel S. Pratt.

Blanchard has served as a deputy district attorney since 1998, after working as a California deputy attorney general. She could not be reached for comment.

The 39-year old Democrat attended UCLA Law School and Cornell University, and will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael Luros.

Moses was in New York with his family when his appointment was announced, and characterized his reaction yesterday as, “Yippie-ai-ay!” and “Thank you Gov. Schwarzenegger!”

He said it was “not entirely clear” when he would take his oath of office because he has some upcoming travel plans and had not yet spoken to the court, and jokingly said that once he took his oath of office, “I’m going to Disneyland!”

The 14-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office is a Democrat. Moses, 46, attended law school at UC Davis , and graduated before that from New York University. His appointment fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dzintra Janavs; he defeated two opponents for the seat last month.

Nieto has been a commissioner since last year, and was a referee before that. She took her oath of office yesterday afternoon, but is planning a more formal swearing-in ceremony that her 87-year old parents, who live in Kansas, may attend.

Although it was still the “same work, same people,” she said her first afternoon as a judge was “pretty amazing.” She is still doing her same calendar and said she was told she will keep her current assignment.

The 57-year old Democrat spent five years in private practice before becoming a referee, serving in both the delinquency and dependency parts of juvenile court.

She attended USC Law School and the University of Kansas, and takes the seat vacated by Judge Alan Kalkin upon his Feb. 19 retirement.

Bianco, Blanchard, Moses and Nieto were among five candidates who won outright election to open seats last month. The fifth, Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman, won the seat now held by Judge Tracy Grant, who remains in office and has not announced any plans to retire before January.

The governor Monday named a total of 30 judges statewide, including eight in San Diego county, three each in Solano and Riverside counties, two each in Alameda, Fresno and Stanislaus counties, and one each in Ventura, Sonoma, Madera, Orange, Butte and Contra Costa counties.

With the four local appointees all being Democrats, the overall breakdown for the 30 is 16 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and two who are unafilliated.

The compensation for each position is $178,789.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company