Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Superior Court Judge Beckloff Tells of Changes for Probate Cases
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Notices will be sent out next week telling attorneys for petitioners in probate cases pending in Los Angeles Superior Court districts that any hearings scheduled for June 10 or beyond will take place at the time or date planned, but will be shifted to a new Department 29 at the downtown Mosk Courthouse, Probate Supervising Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff said yesterday.
Appearing at a lunch meeting of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association’s Probate Section, Beckloff said that petitioners’ lawyers will be instructed to give notice to other parties and creditors.
Judge Roy Paul, who has handled the probate calendar in Long Beach for the past four years, will be assigned to the new department, he announced. Other bench officers moving downtown from district courthouses to hear probate cases, Beckloff advised, are Judges James Steele (now in Van Nuys), Leslie C. Greene (presently sitting in San Fernando), and Daniel F. Murphy (currently in Norwalk), as well as Commissioner David J. Cowan (coming from Santa Monica).
Probate cases are presently heard in the Mosk Courthouse by Beckloff and Judges Michael I. Levanas and Reva Goetz, with Judge Marvin Lager handling settlements and other non-trial matters.
With five judicial officers moving to the downtown courthouse, Beckloff declared, there will be a “probate dream team” there. The jurists will share courtrooms, with one calling calendars in the mornings and another conducting afternoon trials.
Moving all probate cases downtown—except for Antelope Valley cases which will continue to be heard in Lancaster—is part of a previously unveiled master plan aimed at trimming court expenses in light of an $85 million budget shortfall expected July 1. Once the economy improves, Beckloff predicted, probate cases “would slowly go back to the districts.”
The judge said that, with the exception of Antelope Valley cases, all probate filings must be made downtown as of May 8.
Conservatorship, Guardianship Exception
Beckloff also told of a “have gavel, will travel” program under which probate judges will go to the districts to handle conservatorship and guardianship matters where there would be hardship for parties or witnesses to come downtown.
“This is an accommodation the court is willing to make,” he said.
When papers are filed in such cases, it will be possible to request hearings in a district courthouse, the supervising judge related.
He also reported that the mental health court would come “under the auspices of probate” and that Judge James Bianco will be assigned to that court.
“It will be a little hairy at first,” Beckloff told the assemblage of probate practitioners, saying he would foresee there being “more cases on calendar” than they were accustomed to encountering. He asked that they “be patient.”
He said they will face frustrations, and noted that the probate judges are “all frustrated as well.”
“We’re in it together.”
Wearing of Purple
Many of those attending the Encino lunch were wearing a purple garment—and the restaurant had purple napkins on the table. An e-mail had gone out to registrants for the event on Monday saying:
“As you know, we will be having all the downtown judges. We received a request from the secretary to the Judges. They’d like to play a joke on Judge Levanas, who apparently hates the color purple and refused to take part in the recent “National Purple Day” that his staff enjoyed. His staff would like to pay him back by having everyone attending tomorrow’s lunch wear something purple, a tie, scarf, shirt, etc. So if you’d like to be in on the joke, please wear purple! And please don’t mention this to anyone on the Bench, since we’d like to take him by surprise.”
At the outset of his remarks, Beckloff expressed his thanks to those wearing purple. Levanas came to the microphone and commented:
“I have a lot of problems. One of them is an aversion to the color purple.”
Addressing those who had donned a purple garment, he said: “I’m slashing your attorney fees 10 percent.”
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company