Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Superior Court Judge John P. Farrell Announces Retirement
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Farrell will be retiring July 7, the jurist said yesterday.
Farrell, 68, said will serve his last day on the bench June 24 and then use his accrued vacation time to “to do some more traveling and a little bit more reading.”
In the last year, Farrell said he has read translations of Dante’s “Inferno” and “Purgatorio,” so he is planning on finishing the final part of the trilogy, “Paradiso,” during his retirement.
He and his wife also want to “drive up to the Northwest area,” he said. “See some parks or whatever.”
But Farrell is not completely ready to walk away from the court he has served for over two decades, adding that he plans to sign up for the assigned judges program.
Despite becoming eligible for retirement a year and a half ago, the jurist said it “took me a while to think it through and think I do I want to do this,” before deciding to step down.
“I want to do some things when I’m healthy and have some more time to do various trips and other things as well as work,” he said. “I think it’s been a great honor to have been a judge, and I want to let somebody else have that honor for awhile too.”
Looking back on his career, Farrell noted heavier case loads over the years, as well as an increased female and minority presence on the bench.
Among the most notable changes was the increase in the size of the court system, especially following unification in January 2000. “It used to be you know everybody,” he recalled. “Now there are a lot of people I never met.”
At least one of his judicial colleagues was no stranger. For several years, Farrell and his older brother, now-retired Los Angeles Superior Court Michael J. Farrell, presided over cases in the San Fernando Valley.
“We would sometimes have the same criminal defendant,” Farrell recalled. “Sometimes I’d be revoking his probation or whatever, or he’d be sentencing somebody I had sentenced…that was always kind of interesting.”
Sometimes having two judges with the same surnames confused litigants and attorneys though, Farrell admitted, and often people would show up at the wrong courtroom.
Eventually he and his brother were assigned to the same courthouse, and Farrell said he enjoyed working with his brother and going to lunch together. He also said he will miss the courthouse staff, his colleagues and the work.
“I enjoyed the work,” he said. “A lot of it is very intellectually challenging.”
While none of his cases were “headline grabbing,” Farrell, who spent the majority of his time on the bench presiding over unlimited civil cases, emphasized that to him and to the litigants, “every case is important.”
Among his accomplishments while a judge, Farrell said he was proud of his work for nearly 15 years as chair of the court’s Compensation and Benefits committee, where he worked to help judges understand and utilize their county benefits.
Farrell was appointed to the court in 1987 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian after serving a year as principal deputy county counsel and spending six years in private practice with the law firm of Coleman & Farrell.
Prior to that, he served 10 years as deputy county counsel following a three-year stint in Micronesia—a grouping of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean near Guam—as an attorney with the Peace Corps and U.S. Department of the Interior.
Just one year after earning his law degree from Yale University in 1966, Farrell authored the compilation of laws for the island of Yap, in Micronesia.
The jurist spent one year at the New York University School of Law on a full academic scholarship, where he was second in his class and the recipient of five American Jurisprudence awards.
He earned a masters degree in political science from UCLA in 1965, and graduated magna cum laude from Loyola University—now Loyola Marymount—in 1962.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company