Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Page 3


State Bar Court Seeks Applicants for Two Judicial Positions

Judge Madge Watai to Retire From Review Department Next Month—Official


By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer


Applications are being accepted for one review judge and one hearing judge for the State Bar Court, positions currently occupied by Judges Madge Watai and Richard Platel, a court official said yesterday.

The court official said the positions were made available by Watai’s planned retirement in June, and the expiration of Platel’s six-year term of office. Platel told the MetNews that he will be seeking reappointment.

Platel took the bench in December 2004, replacing Judge Alban Niles after Niles’ retirement. He said serving as a State Bar Court judge was “a wonderful experience” and that he “enjoyed every day of it.”

Watai could not be reached for comment. The 80-year old jurist was appointed to the court as a hearing judge in 1996, and was elevated to the Review Department in 2000.

Watai practiced law with her husband, George Watai, from 1968 until 1978, when then-Gov. Jerry Brown named her to the Los Angeles Municipal Court. She was elevated by Brown to the Superior Court in 1981 and served there until being named to the State Bar Court.

The Review Department is the appellate level of the State Bar Court, consisting of the presiding judge and two review judges. Review judges are appointed by the Supreme Court.

The available position is part-time, and will be based in either San Francisco or Los Angeles. The annual salary is $107,273.

The Hearing Department is the trial level of the State Bar Court, and is composed of five judges divided between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The available position is located in Los Angeles, and the hearing judge will be appointed by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, It is a full-time position with an annual salary of $167,274.

Applicants for both positions must have been admitted to practice law in California for at least five years and have no prior record of discipline in any state.

Candidates will be evaluated for their experience, judicial temperament, honestly, objectivity, community respect, integrity, and ability based upon applicant recommendations and the ratings of the Applicant Evaluation and Nomination Committee.

State Bar Court judges serve for six-year terms, and may not practice law during their terms of office.

The State Bar is directing applicants to go to “State Bar Court” from the home page of the State Bar’s website,, call 415-538-2001 or write to: The State Bar of California, State Bar Court – Judge, 180 Howard Street, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-1639. The deadline for applications is June 13 at 5 p.m.


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