Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Newly Elected Court Commissioner Declines to Take Office
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An attorney who earlier this month was elected commissioner by the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court has declined to take the position, Presiding Judge Lee Edmon said yesterday.
Deputy District Attorney Eloise Phillips did not return calls seeking comment, but Edmon said the prosecutor had been “concerned about the future of her position, and being the newest commissioner on the job.”
Edmon related that she had assured Phillips that “the last thing in the world we would want to do is lay off a commissioner,” but the cuts being made to the trial courts are so deep that “we couldn’t give her any guarantees.”
The Judicial Council on Friday approved committee recommendations allocating a $350 million blow to the branch’s budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, which requires trial courts to lose 6.7 percent of their funding.
In order to cope with these cuts, the San Francisco Superior Court has issued layoff notices to 40 percent of its staff, including 11 of its 12 commissioners, and announced plans to close over one third of its courtrooms.
Edmon had said at that time, and yesterday reiterated, similar measures have not been ruled out locally.
“We are looking at all options,” she said.
Phillips was chosen to succeed Commissioner Gerald Mansfield, who left the bench last June.
She had been the second candidate of a list of nominees compiled by a court panel, following Police Department Inspector General Nicole Bershon, who was elected to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Commissioner Nicholas Taubert.
Under local rules, vacant commissioner positions are filled by a vote of the judges from this list, and though the ranking order is not binding, all commissioners chosen in recent years have been selected in this sequence.
Phillips has been a prosecutor for the past 27 years, joining the District Attorney’s Office right after completing her legal education at Pepperdine University.
Court officials said an election to fill the position Phillips declined has not yet been scheduled.
Michael R. Diliberto, president of Advantage Arbitration and Mediation Services LLC, would be the lead candidate in that race. He is followed on the list by Deputy District Attorney Arunas A. Sodonis; Los Angeles attorney Faith Mitchell; Referee Shep Zebberman; Richard L. Bissetti, an associate at Century City’s Magana, Cathcart & McCarthy; Downey criminal defense lawyer Michael LaPan; Hawthorne Deputy City Attorney Robert Kim; and Deputy Public Defender Lisa Brackelmanns.
Lancaster attorney William A. Clark had also been on the list, but his name was removed after he died in January.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company