Thursday, October 21, 2010
Referee Seeking Judgeship Loses Fulltime Courtroom Assignment
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Randy Hammock has been reassigned from the courtroom belonging to Judge Emily Stevens before her retirement, where he said he had been presiding for the past year.
Hammock, who is vying against Beverly Hills attorney Mark Ameli in the Nov. 2 election for the seat vacated by Stevens, has centered his campaign around his experience in the dependency court and the premise that he is more qualified than his opponent since he was already occupying the post he was seeking.
He told the MetNews yesterday that the re-assignment was made for “administrative reasons.”
The referee explained that he sits on an “as-needed” basis, so his assignment to what had been Stevens’ department was temporary. Since newly-appointed Judge Timothy R. Saito was assigned to the dependency court last week, Saito was given the only courtroom without a permanently assigned judicial officer, the one Hammock was sitting in, the referee said.
Returns to ‘Floating’
Hammock said he has returned to “floating,” so his assignments “will change on a daily or weekly basis.” He added that he did not anticipate the loss of Stevens’ courtroom to impact his campaign since he continues to serve the dependency court “on almost a daily basis” for now.
“What happens on Nov. 2nd will determine what happens to me as to any future assignment—be it as a judge, or as a referee,” he said, although “I am hoping for the former, not the latter.”
If elected, Hammock said he would like to remain at the dependency court, but acknowledged he may be assigned elsewhere.
His opponent, Ameli, remarked that he has spoken with several presiding judges and former presiding judges and “they have told me that invariably they do not leave commissioners or referees in the same courtrooms that they were before” being elected.
“Mr. Hammock has been touting the fact that he was in [Stevens’] courtroom and he will remain in that courtroom, but that is not correct,” Ameli said.
Like Temporary Judging
He further commented that the as-needed assignments Hammock receives are made in the same way temporary judges are assigned, opining that the referee serves the court “the same way I have been serving our judiciary as a temporary judge for the past 15 years.”
Ameli went on to say his campaign “is going very well,” and that he was “very much encouraged” by the support he has been receiving, which most recently included the endorsement of the Mexican American Bar Association.
While Ameli claimed the organization had withdrawn its support of Hammock to only back him, MABA’s president Judy Perez yesterday clarified that it had endorsed both candidates in the primary election and voted to support Ameli in the general election after the candidates requested the group issue a sole endorsement.
Hammock said he was “disappointed” that MABA had not backed his campaign, but vowed to “continue to work hard in earning the support of every group and individual in Los Angeles County, including the members of MABA.”
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company