Friday, May 16, 2008
Judge Michael Sauer to Retire After 36 Years on Bench
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer is retiring after 36 years on the bench, the judge told the MetNews yesterday.
Sauer, one of the county’s longest-serving judicial officers, said he had no plans other than to “enjoy myself.” His planning on a Disney cruise with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild this summer.
“I could clean out my garage,” the 70-year-old jurist chuckled. “It’ll take two years.”
His last day of work will be June 5, and his retirement will be official July 7, he explained.
Sauer was a Los Angeles deputy city attorney and assistant city attorney or seven years before he became a judge, and has been involved in numerous high-profile cases in both positions. He received worldwide publicity last year when he sentenced socialite Paris Hilton to 45 days in jail for violating probation and returned her to jail after Sheriff Lee Baca granted her an early release.
Sauer grew up in the Windsor Square area of Los Angeles, attended local Catholic schools, including Loyola High School, then went on to the University of Santa Clara and what was then Loyola University School of Law.
He was admitted to the State Bar in 1962 and joined the Superior Court as a law clerk the following year. He became a deputy city attorney in 1964, served as legal advisor to the Los Angeles Police Department in the late 1960s, and became head of the appellate division.
As an appellate lawyer for the city, he argued a number of cases in front of the California and U.S. high courts, the most famous of which was Cohen v. California (1971) 403 U.S. 15, in which the court held that the First Amendment protected an individual’s right to wear a jacket bearing an obscene reference to the military draft while in what is now the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown.
While with the city, Sauer recalled yesterday, he also prosecuted the two men whose arrests provoked the Watts riots, and advised police on-scene as an estimated 10,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Century Plaza hotel to protest the Vietnam War as then-President Lyndon B. Johnson stayed at an event inside.
He was appointed to the old Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1972 and elevated to the Superior Court through unification in 2000, spending most of his career in misdemeanor, preliminary hearing, and arraignment courts.
He presided over one of the preliminary hearings for Richard Ford and Robert Von Villas, the so-called “Killer Cops”—former LAPD officers who were eventually convicted of a murder-for-hire and of conspiracy to commit murder and robbery.
Sauer has been thinking about retirement for a long time, he said—he has been eligible for maximum benefits for more than 10 years—but said he had not found anything else he was interested in doing.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company