Friday, July 22, 2011
Critics Say They Will File Recall Petitions Against Judge Feffer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Voters seeking the recall of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer are readying their petition for review by the county Office of the Registrar/Recorder, a spokesperson for the group said yesterday.
Tony Andrade of Rancho Murietta, a self-described “political consultant” for the proponents, said he expected to submit the required documents with elections officials by Monday for approval as to their form and wording.
Andrade acknowledged yesterday that the recall may not be successful, but said the proponents are pursuing the effort for its “effect, which is intimidating to judges who are not fair.”
He explained that “the people behind the effort are people who have been taken advantage of by the judge,” consisting of a group of about 20 attorneys and litigants unhappy with Feffer’s performance but who do not want their identities known because they are “scared of being dumped on” by the justice system.
Feffer, who presides over a family law department in the Stanley Mosk courthouse downtown, is accused in the petition of having “violated her oath to defend the Constitution and to protect the people from all enemies foreign and domestic,” as well as “time-honored standards to be fair, balanced, and impartial in rendering justice.”
One of the attorneys involved in the recall movement, who requested anonymity since a client has a matter currently pending before Feffer, contended that the judge “doesn’t follow the law,” because she “issues sanctions without following due process” and “strikes every disqualification statement in front of her.”
After being retained by the client, and hearing the client’s complaints regarding Feffer, the attorney recalled searching for information about the judge on the Internet and finding several postings by individuals who made “very, very similar” allegations of misconduct and bias.
“For people to talk like that about a judge, it’s pretty shocking,” the attorney remarked. “Downtown, we generally have very fine judges, and you don’t hear things like this about any other judge,” the attorney said.
A second attorney who also asked to not be named contended “a judicial officer is supposed to give the appearance of impartiality…[but] that has not been happening” in his client’s proceedings before Feffer.
This attorney said his client’s matter has been pending before Feffer for five years without a trial having been held. The judge has also repeatedly declined to grant this client a fee waiver even though the client is “on food stamps,” and disabled from working, he said.
He also claimed that “as an attorney, you can’t get a word in edgewise,” in appearances before Feffer, and that she will “twist and distort evidence” during lengthy monologues. As an example, he said Feffer accused him of calling her a ‘liar” when he suggested she had misstated some evidence in his client’s case and would not listen to his assurances he had not intended to do so.
“I wish I could remove the case to another court,” he said.
Feffer, when asked about the allegations made by the recall proponents, acknowledged that trial is “an adversarial process,” but declined to discuss individual litigants or attorneys, or specific rulings, citing her ethical obligations as a judge, and the need to maintain the confidentiality of the family law proceedings she hears.
She also provided the MetNews with her response to the recall, which by law must appear on the recall petitions once they are cleared for circulation by election officals.
In her answer, Feffer averred that “[e]very statement in the recall petition is false” and the “defamatory” assertions “reflect the ill will of a small number of losing parties angry with the outcomes of their cases.”
Feffer declared that “I take my obligations to the public seriously,” and that “[a[ll of my decisions are based upon the law and the evidence and arguments officially presented to me.”
The jurist noted in the response that she was re-elected in 2010 without a challenge, and lists as her supporters Presiding Judge Lee Edmon; Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley; former presiding judges Victor Chavez, Charles McCoy, William MacLaughlin, Steve Czuleger, and Robert Dukes; Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash; supervising judges Carolyn Kuhl, Patricia Schnegg, Marjorie Steinberg, Mitchell Beckloff, and Samantha Jessner; District Attorney Steve Cooley; Sheriff Lee Baca; the California Judges Association; Los Angeles County Bar Association; the American Academy of Family Trial Lawyers; the Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the Professional Peace Officers’ Association.
Feffer said the Beverly Hills Bar Association and several of her colleagues have also risen to her defense, but she could not name them all in her response because of space limitations.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received,” she said, “and very grateful.”
Prior to taking the bench in 2007, Feffer was a partner with the San Marino law firm Jones & Mayer. She began her legal career as a law clerk, then associate and then partner, with Burke, Williams & Sorensen, where she worked from 1992 to 2004.
Feffer earned a law degree from the USC, and holds a master of arts degree from the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and a bachelor’s degree from UCLA.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company