Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, March 27, 2009


Page 1


Board of Supervisors Set to Name Kalunian Acting County Counsel




The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will name Chief Deputy Public Defender Robert Kalunian as acting county counsel on Tuesday, the MetNews has learned.

Board members could not be reached for comment, but Kalunian, the No. 2 person in his office for the last 15 years, said yesterday he had agreed to accept the appointment, effective April 1.

Kalunian, 60, would temporarily fill the vacancy created by the announced retirement of Raymond G. Fortner. Fortner informed his staff by memo yesterday that supervisors “felt it best to temporarily appoint someone to the acting position who would not be a candidate for the permanent appointment,” and public defender employees were informed of the expected move as well.

Kalunian said he expected the board’s nationwide search for a permanent successor to Fortner to take 90 days or so, and that he fully intends to return to his present post once an appointment is made. While the search could take somewhat longer, he commented, ”I was assured that it would move as fast as is practical.”

Public Defender Michael Judge said he was informed last week that Board Chairman Don Knabe wanted Kalunian to fill the post. Kalunian said he had not sought the job, but that he accepted “because the [supervisors] wanted me to.”

He added that he was “flattered that they have the confidence in me to ask me to do this during a short period of time.” He added that he had “dealt with most of the managing attorneys in the County Counsel’s Office over a period of many years” and had “the utmost confidence in them” and in the office’s ability to provide “quality service to all of its clients, including the board.”

No Changes Planned

He also said that he had no plans to make any management changes at the office and would not be bringing any Public Defender’s Office staff members with him.

Kalunian grew up in Pasadena and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles and Southwestern Law School. He has spent his entire legal career of over 35 years in the Public Defender’s Office.

‘Healthy Ego’

Public Defender Michael Judge commented that the County Counsel’s Office was getting someone who was “highly organized, detail-oriented, very thorough, a hard worker, very reliable, and very trustworthy.” One of his greatest skills, Judge said, was that Kalunian “has a very healthy ego, by which I mean he subordinates what might be best for him personally to what is best for the organization.”

He added, however, that he was “certainly” looking forward to Kalunian’s return to his current role. “I’m not going to let him retire,” Judge said.

Judge said he had no plans to replace Kalunian with a specific individual for the time being, but would parcel out his duties as necessary. In a few weeks, however, “we will reevaluate and decide if a single individual should manage the balance of his portfolio” until he returns, Judge said.


Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company