Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, May 16, 2011


Page 3


Superior Court Commissioner Burt Barnett to Retire


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Burt Barnett said Friday he intends to retire this summer.

The 71-year-old jurist, who has sat in Downey for all of his 13.5 years as commissioner, said he will sit until the end of June, then take vacation time until his retirement becomes official at the end of July.

He and his wife are moving to a home they own in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he plans to “play a lot of golf,” he said.

A graduate of California State University, Long Beach and UC Berkeley School of Law, Barnett was admitted to the State Bar in 1966 and had a general criminal and civil litigation practice in Norwalk until the judges of the old Downey Municipal Court named him a commissioner.

Her served in that court from 1998 until he became a Superior Court commissioner through consolidation in 2000.

He has spent the past eight years in an expedited disposition program, presiding over a large number of felonies while also conducting preliminary hearings and arraignments. He recently presided over a preliminary hearing for Edwin T. Snell, an activist who regularly dresses as a clown to confront officials at public events.

Barnett ruled there was sufficient evidence to try Snell on a charge of threatening the city clerk of Bell.

The commissioner also conducted the 2003 preliminary hearing for Michael Stephen Baker, a retired Catholic priest accused of molesting an altar boy throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s. Barnett ordered Baker to stand trial on nearly 30 counts of sexual abuse.

The defense had argued that the priest’s conduct with the boy did not amount to substantial sexual conduct, but the commissioner based a finding of probable cause, in part, on intimate notes later sent by Baker to the victim. “If it’s not a confession it is certainly an admission of misconduct,” the commissioner found.

Barnett said Friday he has enjoyed the work, but his wife has been “bugging me to retire” and “its time to move on.” He has no current plans to be involved in the law, particularly since he will be moving out of the state, he said.


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