Thursday, February 23, 2012
Superior Court Referee Sherri Sobel Denies Misconduct, Fights Disciplinary Suspension
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Sherri Sobel is fighting a disciplinary suspension tentatively imposed on her, asserting that the alleged misconduct never occurred.
A suspension was imposed by Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon based on complaints that Sobel, who sits in a dependency court, called a lawyer a “bitch” in open court, flipped off a mother in open court, and employed the same gesture in front of counsel in chambers while on a conference call with a lawyer.
In response to an inquiry from the MetNews, Sobel said yesterday, in an e-mail:
“I absolutely deny calling anyone a bitch in my court, or giving ‘the finger.’ In 30 years bench and bar, there has never been a complaint until now. Regarding being obscene with a parent, I need to say strongly that you cannot do this job for 30 years if you disrespect the humanity of the families, regardless of the rulings you must make for the safety of the children.”
She described the disciplinary proceedings as “ongoing.”
Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash declined to comment, explaining that if allegations had, in fact, been made against Sobel, it would be a confidential personnel matter. He did express the view that Sobel was of high value to the court and that she was an “expert” in special education needs and Indian affairs.
In 2007, the Juvenile Court Judges of California, an adjunct of the California Judges Assn., named Sobel Juvenile Court Judge of the Year.
Sobel was admitted to practice in 1983. As a private practitioner, she handled juvenile delinquency and dependency cases.
At the age the age of 37, Sobel, then an English teacher, enrolled in law school at Western State University in San Diego. She told the MetNews in a 2007 interview:
“I went back to law school for the express purpose of working with kids, and I was lucky—every single step of the way, I met somebody who was able to help me get there.”
She described her job as a Juvenile Court referee as “the best job on the face of the earth.”
Sobel has been contemplating retirement later this year but said yesterday, “that decision has not yet been made.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company