Monday, May 12, 2014
Court Commissioner Mitchell Block to Retire Next Month
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Mitchell Block is retiring next month.
Block did not return MetNews phone calls Friday, but an email sent to judicial officers and others said he would no longer be sitting in Department 100, Van Nuys West Courthouse, after Wednesday. The email said he will officially from the court June 30, and that Judge Leland Harris has been temporarily assigned to Department 100 effective Thursday.
Block will turn 65 June 25, and was a Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner from 1989 to 2000, when he became a Superior Court commissioner through unification.
A native of New York, he worked as a stage actor before graduating from Queens College with a major in theater and mass communications. He then did post-graduate work in acting and directing at Brandeis University, while working in regional theater.
He eventually switched gears and decided to pursue a legal career after “realizing that his dream of playing center field for the New York Yankees was not going to come true, and after a couple of years as a struggling actor,” he explained in a 1999 biography.
He graduated from Hamline University School of Law in Minnesota in 1977. He was admitted to practice in Minnesota following graduation, clerked for a local judge, and was admitted in California in 1978/
He joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1979, serving in a variety of posts, including prosecuting white-collar cases in the Major Fraud Division for four years. leaving in 1986 when the Municipal Court Judges Association selected him for a short-term commissioner’s appointment. He returned to the District Attorney’s Office following the term, but received another temporary appointment in 1988 and a permanent one the following year.
He sought election as a Superior Court judge in 1994. He was rated “Well Qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee, but lost the contest to Susan Bryant-Deason, then a deputy district attorney.
Spending the bulk of his career as a commissioner in the San Fernando Valley, and much of it in master calendar, he was also the first commissioner of the Drug Court in Van Nuys, later the first commissioner to oversee the Community Court program, and after that the judicial officer in charge of Proposition 36 drug cases.
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