Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Page 4


Matrimonial Lawyers to Honor Chief Justice, Judge Lewis


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Southern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has announced the selection of Chief Justice Ronald M. George as its Family Law Person of the Year and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Trent Lewis as its Judicial Officer of the Year.

Formed in 1962 with the stated mission of improving the practice of law and the administration of justice in the area of divorce and family law, the academy boasts over 1,500 fellows nationwide. The local chapter is comprised of the region’s top 90 matrimonial attorneys, the group said.

The Family Law Person of the Year award is nicknamed the “Normie,” in honor of former chapter president Norman M. Dolin, since deceased, and is presented annually to a recipient who exemplifies the professional standards and ethics embodied by Dolin, the organization said.

Woodland Hills attorney Peter Walzer, a spokesperson for the group and last year’s Normie recipient, praised the chief justice in a statement for “rendering bold decisions that have had a significant impact on family law,” such as Elkins v. Superior Court, (2007) 41 Cal.4th 1337, which struck down certain Contra Costa Superior Court rules aimed at expediting family law trials and proposed the formation of a task force that would study and propose measures to improve family law proceedings and recommend changes to the statewide rules of practice and procedure.

Walzer also noted George’s “difficult and courageous work on the issue of same-sex marriage,” as author of the majority decision in In re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 Cal.4th 757.

The attorney opined that George’s decision to write for the high court majority in both cases “demonstrates that we have a Chief Justice interested in Family Law issues and who recognizes their importance.”

George is a 1961 graduate of Princeton University and a 1964 graduate of Stanford Law School. He began his judicial career on the Los Angeles Municipal Court after a stint as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice.

As a prosecutor, he represented the state in six oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court, including arguing in support of the constitutionality of the
death penalty, and appeared in numerous cases before the California Supreme Court, including the prosecution of Sirhan Sirhan for the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.

He was tapped for the bench in 1972 by then-Gov. Ronald Regan and elevated to the Superior Court in 1977 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. George was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1987 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian and to the Supreme Court by Governor Pete Wilson in 1991. He became the chief justice in 1996.

Lewis is also being recognized for the group for his “outstanding contributions to the field of family law—both locally and statewide,” and in recognition of his commitment to children and families, Walzer added.

The jurist began his law career in private practice as a family law attorney and became a certified family law specialist in 1985. Three years later Lewis became a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

He left private practice in 2006 to join the court, where he sits in a family law department.

Lewis is a member of the Family & Juvenile Law Advisory Committee for the Judicial Council of California and the vice president of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts, California Chapter.

His other professional affiliations include membership in the Center for Judicial Education and Research, Family Law Education Committee, Los Angeles Superior Court Access and Fairness Committee, Los Angeles Superior Court Family Law Committee, Los Angeles Superior Court Technology Committee, and the Los Angeles Superior Court Temporary Judge Program.

Superior Court Judge Mark A. Juhas was the Judicial Officer of the Year Award recipient for Los Angeles County last year.


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