Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Page 1


Public Defender Michael Judge to Retire


By a MetNews Staff Writer


An announcement by Los Angeles Public Defender Michael P. Judge that he will retire from office is imminent, the MetNews has learned from knowledgeable sources.

No mention of the retirement was made at the “Person of the Year” Dinner on Friday, at which Judge was honored along with District Attorney Steve Cooley and Los Angeles Public Defender Carmen Trutanich. Information as to Judge’s plan to leave office was not acquired until Saturday.

Judge is the ninth public defender for the county. When the post was created in 1913, it was the first in the nation.

The Board of Supervisors appointed Judge on May 1, 1994. He had been a trial deputy in the office since 1969, the year he was admitted to practice.

Judge received his undergraduate and law degrees from UCLA.

Yesterday, Judge declined either to confirm or deny his decision to retire.

Robert Kalunian, Judge’s chief deputy, on Friday ended a 10-month stint as acting county counsel. He said yesterday:

“I am not interested in seeking the position of public defender or acting public defender.”

At the Person of the Year Dinner, Judge commented:

“When I received the appointment from the Board of Supervisors, I had an agenda. I thought it would take an entire career to accomplish that agenda. Fortunately..., the agenda was really achieved within the first five or six years.

“And we were able to reload, take another look at the system, and accomplish even more.”

While the public defender yesterday would not talk about his career plans, he did amplify on his remarks Friday, telling what his initial agenda was. He said he wanted his office to be able to “communicate with the various communities” in the county, and for the clients to be “more open, trusting, and to follow our good advice and not be influenced by cell mates” and others.

Judge related he wanted to veer clients from the notion that “public defenders are public pretenders.”

He said he wanted to “hire a very qualified, diverse work force,” making employment available “irrespective of culture or race or gender.”

When promotions were made, Judge recited, he would question recommendations by asking questions like: “Are you telling me that there are no women in the office who are qualified to supervise even three people?”

In 2008, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association bestowed in Judge, at its annual awards lunch held in Washington, D.C., the Reginald Heber Smith Award for dedication in providing representation to indigents.

Judge supervises more than 700 attorneys and has 40 offices throughout the county.


Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company