Friday, April 10, 2009
Superior Court Judge Charles Stoll Dead at 78
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles W. Stoll, who served nearly 20 years on the bench after practicing law for more than 30 years, has died.
Judges and court staff members were notified yesterday that the jurist had passed away, and that there would be no public services, although a memorial may take place later at the court.
Stoll was appointed to the court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1989. His first permanent assignment was to the Eastlake Juvenile Court, but he most recently served in Glendale, where he presided over a fast-track civil courtroom.
He also served for several years as the North Central District supervising judge or the Glendale site judge, and served for a time on the court’s Executive Committee.
At the time of his appointment, he was a senior partner in the law firm of Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger, where he had worked since leaving the County Counsel’s Office in 1963. The firm, which is more than 100 years old, was located in Hollywood when he joined but later moved to Glendale.
Stoll handled civil litigation, including construction, commercial, and products liability work. For the last five years or so of his tenure, he primarily oversaw litigation on behalf of insurance carriers and spent less time in court himself, former partners said.
One of his former partners, John Brink, described Stoll as a “proficient” attorney whose long experience in litigation made him a natural for the bench. Another Irsfeld partner, James Waldorf, said Stoll “was not one of these guys who tried to be overly aggressive,” and that his success was based partly on the fact that “most of the judges he appeared before liked him.”
Stoll once explained to an interviewer that he handled only one criminal case in private practice, involving the operation of a stolen car. The defendant was acquitted, but when Stoll arrived at the man’s apartment for what was to be a victory celebration, he learned that the man skipped town without paying for his services.
Stoll was a native of Philadelphia who grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1952 and later served in the U.S. Air Force.
He was stationed in California, and stayed after being discharged with the rank of captain in 1955. He earned his law degree at USC in 1958 and joined the County Counsel’s Office prior to his January 1959 admission.
Stoll was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 1996 for failing to disqualify himself in four cases in which the Walt Disney Company was a litigant, even though he owned stock in the company. Stoll explained at the time that he believed disqualification was not required because the stock was held in a retirement account.
The commission said the judge’s failure to familiarize himself with the relevant law “served to aggravate, rather than mitigate, his misconduct in failing to disqualify.” The CJP also found that the judge had improperly written two letters to a collection agency on court letterhead in connection with a claim against a member of the judge’s family.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company