Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Bigelow Confirmed as Presiding Justice of Div. Eight
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Court of Appeal Justice Tricia A. Bigelow was yesterday unanimously confirmed as the presiding justice of Div. Eight at a public hearing of the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
Immediately after the hearing, Chief Justice Ronald George administered the oath of office to Bigelow, who wore the robe once belonging to her father, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M. Ross Bigelow, who passed away in 2002.
Div. Four’s Presiding Justice Norman Epstein, District Attorney Steve Cooley and Los Angeles Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Lee S. Edmon spoke as witnesses in support of Bigelow’s appointment to the vacancy created by the retirement of Presiding Justice Candace Cooper at the end of 2008.
Each praised Bigelow’s work as a legal educator and writer, in addition to her stellar reputation as a bench officer.
Epstein described Bigelow as “well-qualified, and more” for the position, based on her “excellent as well as successful” legal career.
Former Hollywood Judge
As a former supervising judge for the Los Angeles Municipal Court’s Hollywood branch, Bigelow was deserving of a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, Epstein opined.
“I can only assume that will be coming, since these things do take time,” he said, drawing a laugh from the standing-room-only audience.
The justice also praised Bigelow’s decisions since joining the appellate court bench just over a year and a half ago as “clear, concise, convincing, and humanely fair.”
Cooley, who spoke second, said he was reluctant to be “redundant” in his praise of Bigelow, noting that Epstein had “done his due diligence” regarding Bigelow’s qualifications.
Bigelow was “a consummate professional” as a prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office, trial judge, and appellate justice, Cooley said.
Cooley emphasized Bigelow’s experience, having secured “hard-won convictions in literally hundreds of cases” as a prosecutor, presided over criminal and civil matters “with ease and distinction” as a judge, and authored bench guides on sex crimes, criminal law jury instructions, Pitchess motions and basic felony sentencing.
District Attorney’s Testimony
George, who presided over the hearing with Attorney General Jerry Brown and Senior Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of Div. Three, noted Cooley had multiple “levels of exposure” to Bigelow over her career, and asked how Cooley viewed her as “an advocate” and as “a consumer of her publications.”
Cooley responded that he found Bigelow “excellent” in each respect.
Edmon said that “no one has done more than Justice Bigelow in the field of judicial education in the past 10 years,” and that the justice has “influenced the careers of more than 1,000 new judges across the state” through her work with the judicial college.
She also emphasized Bigelow’s work ethic, recalling how she had “worked nights and weekends” after being assigned to a civil courtroom for the first time, exercised with Edmon’s former bailiff as her personal trainer and braved the worst day of the Los Angeles riots to deliver a brief to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
“Nothing stops Trish Bigelow,” Edmon said.
Jonathan Wolff, chair of the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, also said that the commission had found Bigelow to be “extremely hard-working,” as well as “exceptionally intelligent” and “a leader in the field of legal education,” with “an impressive aptitude for legal administration.”
He reported that the commission had found Bigelow “well-qualified” for appointment.
Bigelow spoke very briefly, promising to conduct herself with “fairness, integrity and compassion” if she were named presiding justice.
Klein reminded Bigelow that there have only been four female presiding justices in this district, and “very few around the U.S.,” so that the “spotlight will be on you” as a presiding justice. “I’m looking forward to seeing you meet all of our expectations,” she added.
Bigelow joined Div. Eight in June 2008 after serving 10 years in the Superior Court and three years on the Municipal Court. She presided over general jurisdiction fast track civil trials and long cause criminal trials, and was appointed to both positions by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.
A graduate of California State University, Fullerton and Pepperdine Law School, Bigelow was admitted to the State Bar in 1986.
She spent nine years as a state deputy attorney general in the Criminal Law Division, eventually becoming a supervising deputy attorney general and the trial coordinator in Los Angeles.
Bigelow was judicial appointments co-chair for the League of Women Prosecutors, a founding co-president of the Los Angeles Criminal Law Inns of court and a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court Criminal Jury Instructions Committee, known as “CALJIC.”
The justice also chaired the Center for Judicial Education and Research’s New Judge Education Committee from 2006 to 2008—acting as dean to the annual Judicial College and overseeing the education of all newly-appointed judges in California—as well as the center’s Criminal Law Education Committee from 2000 to 2002 and the Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Law Education Committee from 2006 to 2008.
Bigelow’s confirmation creates an associate justice vacancy on Div. Eight. The governor recently sent the names of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ross Klein and Orange Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning to the JNE Commission as possible appointees.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company