Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Page 1


Van Sicklen to Step Down as Criminal Courts Supervising Judge

Former Supervising Judge Wesley to Fill Post for Remainder of Term


By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer


Los Angeles Criminal Courts Supervising Judge Steven Van Sicklen said yesterday that he plans to step down from his post as supervising judge next month in order to accept a bench position in Torrance.

A court spokesperson confirmed that Van Sicklen, 61, will serve his last day as supervising judge on July 3, and that Van Sicklen’s immediate predecessor in the post, Judge David S. Wesley, will return to serve as acting supervising judge for the remainder of the two-year term, which concludes in December.

Van Sicklen told the MetNews that he was leaving now so that he would “have a home at the end of the year.”

Previous Discussion

Noting that he had previously discussed with Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger a desire to receive an assignment in Torrance when his term ended in December in order to be closer to his home, Van Sicklen said that he decided to make the switch after Czuleger advised him that such a position was currently open in Dept. F, but that the presiding justice would not be able to keep it open for the next six months.

He said that he thought it was the right time for him to leave the post because the court was running smoothly, but he added that he currently has no anticipation of retiring.

Appointed to the court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1998, Van Sicklen served as assistant supervising judge of the criminal courts from 2005 until 2007, when Czuleger elevated him to replace Wesley, who had served as supervising judge since 2003.

Prior to his appointment to the Superior Court, Van Sicklen was a partner at Baker, Silberberg & Kenner in Irvine, where he did civil defense work for 13 years.  The 1972 graduate of McGeorge School of Law brought to the bench 26 years of trial experience, including three years of criminal law experience as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County.

For Wesley, 61, the switch will mark the second time the jurist has stepped in to serve temporarily as acting supervising judge.

Prior to becoming supervising judge, he served for two years as assistant supervising judge beginning in 2001, and he also served briefly during July of that year as acting supervising judge after the death of Judge Stephen O’Neil until Judge Dan Oki was selected to fill the position.

A 1973 admittee to the State Bar, Wesley was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Wilson in 1997 after having served two years as a superior court commissioner, and two years before that as a State Bar hearing judge.

He graduated from Southwestern University School of Law in 1972, and served for eight years in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office before leaving to enter private practice, where he remained until becoming a hearing judge in 1993.

Electoral Challenge

Wesley was the subject of an unsuccessful electoral challenge in 2004 after Oki issued a no-overtime order which resulted in the court closing, when a man who was released but failed to come back for a preliminary hearing the next day as directed committed a murder.

The order was erroneously attributed to Wesley, but he subsequently defeated three challengers in the March 2, 2004 primary election, garnering 55.78 percent of the vote.

The jurist said that he expected that Judge Peter Espinosa, who has served as assistant supervising judge since 2007, would remain in that position until the end of this year.

Espinosa is widely expected to be selected as the next criminal courts supervising judge for a two-year term commencing in 2009, but Assistant Presiding Judge Charles W. McCoy, who is expected to replace Czuleger as presiding judge later this year and assume responsibility for making such assignments, has not confirmed such a move.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company