Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Landin Elected President of Latino Judges Association
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin has been elected president of the Latino Judges Association.
Landin, who previously served as the group’s vice president, told the MetNews yesterday that he was elected without opposition on Sept. 25 at a meeting of the group in Monterey, and succeeded Fresno Superior Court Judge Jane Cardoza.
The Latino Judges Association is a non-profit group of judicial officers founded approximately 18 years ago to address issues facing the Latino community, Landin said. He explained that the group’s membership includes not only judges and court commissioners of Latino heritage, but those concerned with issues facing the community as well.
The group meets twice a year, coinciding with the annual meeting and mid-year conference of the California Judges Association.
Landin said the group was formed when members attending CJA events realized that the number of Latino judicial officers had grown beyond “just a handful” and decided to form a group that was more than a social organization.
The association tries to be a resource for community organizations concerned regarding access to justice, Landin commented, and also to be a resource for the governor’s judicial appointments secretary.
The new president said that he intended to send out a survey to judicial officers around California to determine which ones identify themselves as Latino or express concern about issues facing the community, and to seek their input on projects the group should undertake.
In the past, that has included offering help to judges, law professors and prosecutors in Mexico as the country transitions towards adoption of an accusatorial, oral trial system like the one in the United States. It has also included “keeping the pipeline open” for Latino youths to become attorneys by encouraging them to attend law school, Landin said, opining that Latinos are underrepresented in law schools in proportion to their percentage of the population.
The group’s presidents preceding Cardoza include Riverside Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez and San Diego Superior Court Judge Esteban Hernandez, and Landin said the presidency generally rotates among different counties in recognition that the group is not just a Los Angeles organization.
He acknowledged that the bulk of Latino judicial officers are in Los Angeles County, but added that their ranks are increasing around the state, a phenomenon he credited to the judicial appointments of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Gray Davis.
Davis appointed Landin to the Los Angeles Superior Court in October 2002, and the judge is currently assigned to hear felony criminal cases in the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
A graduate of Occidental College and law school at UCLA, Landin joined the State Bar in 1980 and began his legal career as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Long Beach. He joined the office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California in 1982, and from 1992 until his appointment to the bench served as the chief assistant to the Federal Public Defender.
Landin has been an active member of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County and was on its board of trustees for several years.
He is a former board member and past president of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, a non-profit corporation that provides counseling and legal representation for poor people in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel Valleys. He is also a past chairperson of the Committee on Federal Courts for the California State Bar.
Landin is on the faculty of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College and has taught classes for the Center for Judicial Education and Research of the Administrative Office of the Courts. He also serves as a lecturer in law at USC’s law school.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company