Tuesday, February 2, 2010
‘Person of the Year’ Award Recipients Trade Accolades at Dinner
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The 22nd annual Metropolitan News-Enterprise “Person of the Year” Dinner, held Friday, was marked by the chief prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles, joined by the chief prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles, heaping praise on the county’s public defender, and receiving accolades from him, in turn.
The honorees were District Attorney Steve Cooley, Public Defender Michael P. Judge and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was among the dignitaries presenting commendations to the awardees. He observed:
“You read about counties in the state [where] the sheriff is suing the public defender, who’s suing the district attorney, and it’s all chaos.”
He said of Los Angeles County:
“We all get along—and this is really very unique, and [something] we can be very proud of. We can work together and we can come to solutions.
“Now, if we could only take that to Sacramento, we’d have something.”
Sheriff Lee Baca said of the honorees:
“The key to the three gentlemen is that they do get along.”
Superior Court Presiding Judge Charles McCoy remarked:
“Isn’t it interesting that all of them, together, are getting this ‘Person of the Year’ award? How wonderful it is to live in a town where we know that our justice system is honorable.
“It lives up to our expectations—and it is led by men and women such as these.”
Trutanich Questions Worthiness
Trutanich, who took office July 1, likened himself to Barack Obama, as a fledgling U.S. president, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
He said of Cooley and Judge:
“Together these guys are about 100 years of law, and they’re the best....
“What I’ve done is inconsequential. They’re both truly great men and are very deserving of this award, and I’m honored to be here.”
He said he viewed the award as “emblematic of the efforts that I intend to work at.”
Judge offered the view that Trutanich was appropriately named to receive the award, saying:
“He won a spectacular, come-from-behind victory. OK. That’s extraordinary. But what about the promises he made?
“Well, he promised to run an open organization—one where the doors are open, one where people can come in and talk things over, one where he would take a look at the status quo and challenge it, if necessary, one where he would facilitate the full development of the talent that he had, where people would realize the full potential.
“He has done that. So he certainly does deserve this award.”
The public defender lauded Cooley for “the courage he’s shown in taking on public corruption, something other prosecutors are loathe to do,” adding:
“He’s been very active in making the entire county have government that serves the people and not serve corrupt politicians.”
Cooley instituted his office’s Public Integrity Division, as well as a Justice System Integrity Division.
Cooley told Judge:
“You’ve been a great public defender for 16 years now…, a great defender of those who need it, a great man, a great leader, a great collaborator of mine, a great partner of mine.”
He said of Judge and Trutanich:
“These guys define practice in L.A. County. I’ve never met two more honorable men.”
Cooley was named “Person of the Year” prior to his announcing that he would be a candidate for the Republican nomination for state attorney general. There were three allusions to his candidacy during the program.
“I’m going to have to start calling him ‘General’—at least, that’s what he tells me.”
Former State Bar Court Judge Michael Marcus, who presented certificates in his role as a State Bar vice president, told Cooley:
“We had this made up five weeks ago—and if you had told me, we could have added that you would be the next attorney general of the State of California.”
“I didn’t know it five weeks ago.”
“I’ll very pleased that my friend Steve is going to run for attorney general....I’ll be pulling for him.”
District Attorney Chided
In presenting the “Person of the Year” award to Cooley, MetNews Co-Publisher Jo-Ann W. Grace recalled a raid on the newspaper’s premises by district attorney investigators in 2002. Cooley piped up:
“We paid you off!”
She said of the incident:
“Except for that one little mistake, misstep, Steve’s service has been impeccable and it has been exceptional.”
She went on to say:
“Our illustrious emcee [Robert H. Philibosian], a former D.A., as you know, recently told a meeting of the Armenian Bar Assn. that Steve Cooley was the greatest non-Armenian D.A. in the county’s history.”
Citing his reorganization of the office and uplifted office morale, and other accomplishments, Grace opined that he has been “unquestionably one of the best.”
Her husband, Editor/Co-Publisher Roger M. Grace, termed Trutanich “indefatigable, irrepressible, inimitable,” and remarked:
“In the short time he’s been in office, he’s turned things around, resuscitating an office in sorry condition.”
He said of Judge:
“He’s a department head, a lawyer, an advocate, a reformer. In every role, he excels.”
The program started with a performance by the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic, under the baton of attorney Gary S. Greene. The orchestra made its debut at the “Person of the Year” Dinner last year.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company