Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Governor Sends Ross Klein’s Name to JNE Commission
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ross M. Klein is being vetted for a seat on this district’s Court of Appeal, the MetNews has learned.
Klein, through a court spokesperson, declined yesterday to comment on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger having forwarded his name to the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
A former Los Angeles deputy public defender, Klein was appointed to the Superior Court by Schwarzenegger in 2005 after serving for five years as a Superior Court commissioner and two years before that as a municipal court commissioner. He also served pro tem at the Bellflower court branch before submitting his application for commissioner.
Klein was with the Public Defender’s Office for 18 years before becoming a commissioner in 1998, and he served as a volunteer law clerk and then attorney with Bet Tzedek Legal Services from 1978 to 1980.
A Democrat, he was admitted to the State Bar in 1979 and graduated from San Fernando Valley College of Law after attending UCLA.
Klein has served on the faculty of the New Judicial Officer Training Program as well as on the faculty of the Center for Judicial Education and Research.
He is currently assigned to Div. 86 in the San Pedro Courthouse, and has worked in Proposition 36 courts, which are named for a 2000 ballot initiative which requires treatment, not incarceration, for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.
Klein grew up in the San Fernando Valley. His father was an engineer for Litton Industries, and his mother was junior high school physical education teacher.
He said in a 2003 interview that he came to the law after dismal high school chemistry marks convinced him to dismiss a medical career. The judge said that during summers while in high school he would drive his father to work, but would then spend his days at the Van Nuys Courthouse watching trials instead of hitting the beach or boardwalks.
Klein maintains an Internet blog titled “Klein’s Korner,” which shares the same name as a monthly column he wrote for years analyzing legal issues and which appeared in the Southeast Bar Association newsletter and “Star News,” the official Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department publication.
A vacancy has existed on Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal since Candace Cooper, the division’s first presiding justice, stepped down at the end of December.
The JNE commission is charged by Government Code Sec. 12011.5 with conducting confidential evaluations of all persons whose names have been submitted to it by the governor as potential judicial appointees. Except in the last 90 days of a term, the governor cannot name any person as a judge unless they have been evaluated by the commission or unless it has failed to complete an evaluation within 90 days of submission of the person’s name.
The MetNews reported earlier this year that Schwarzenegger sent the names of Div. Eight Justices Laurence Rubin and Tricia Bigelow to the commission as possible replacements for Cooper. If either justice is appointed and confirmed by the Senate, another vacancy would be created.
The governor recently sent the name of Orange Superior Court Presiding Judge Kim Dunning to the JNE Comission as a possible appointee to the court. He had previously sent the names of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Eric Taylor, Edward Ferns, Joanne O’Donnell, James Chalfant, Emilie Elias, Aurelio Munoz—who is now retired—Owen Lee Kwong, Peter Lichtman, Carl West, Ronald Coen, William Highberger and Fumiko Wasserman, as well as that of Irell & Manella’s Gregory R. Smith, to the commission.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company