Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Judge Pounders to Step Down at End of Term
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders said yesterday he will step down from the bench when his term ends in January 2011.
The judge’s decision creates the first confirmed open seat for the next election cycle. At least eight candidates—West Los Angeles attorney and mediator Elizabeth A. Moreno, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Lou Holtz Jr. and Alan K. Schneider, Beverly Hills practitioner Mark Ameli, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Garcia, Superior Court Referee Randolph M. Hammock, Pasadena personal injury attorney Anthony de los Reyes, and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Thomas J. Griego—have said they will run for open seats on the court.
Pounders, 70, said that he will endorse Schneider, who was a prosecutor in his courtroom, for election.
The jurist had told the MetNews last year that he would step down either when the county stopped paying supplemental benefits, which the Court of Appeal ruled last year were unconstitutional, or at the end of this year, whichever came first. But the Legislature enacted emergency legislation continuing the benefits.
Pounders explained at the time that he was basically “working for those benefits,” because his combined pensions as a retired judge and retired state deputy attorney general would exceed his state salary.
The judge said he has now decided to stay on another year, in part due to the death of his wife last month. “It’s better to be here [at the court] than to think about the loss,” he said.
He added that allowing the seat to be filled by election, rather than by appointment, would let “those who are anxious to spend up to $500,000 to become a judge get a chance to do so,” although the cost of campaigns has become “mindboggling,” he said. Pounders was re-elected in 2004 over a token write-in candidate.
Pounders, a native of Ohio, was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1983 after 14 years in the state Attorney General’s Office, the last four as a senior trial attorney in the Criminal Division. He was elevated to the Superior Court by Deukmejian in 1985.
A Los Angeles resident since the age of 15, he majored in mathematics at Occidental College, served in the Air Force for three years after graduating in 1961, worked two years for an insurance company before enrolling at Loyola Law School, and graduated in 1969.
As a longtime trial judge in what is now the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, he has handled a number of high-profile cases, including the McMartin Preschool case. Pounders presided over the 1990 trial in which Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey—whose mother founded the Manhattan Beach school—were acquitted on 52 counts of child molestation.
The jury deadlocked on 13 additional charges against Raymond Buckey. A second trial before another judge resulted in another hung jury, and the remaining charges were dismissed at the prosecution’s request.
More recently, he sentenced former Compton laborer Juan Manuel Alvarez to 11 consecutive life prison terms for triggering a Metrolink commuter train crash that killed 11 people.
His retirement plans, Pounders said last year, do not include sitting on assignment or private judging. He will probably work with nonprofit groups, in particular the Humane Society, he explained.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company