Thursday, July 31, 2014
Levanas to Replace Nash as Presiding Juvenile Court Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas will replace Michael Nash as presiding juvenile court judge, the MetNews has learned.
Levanas could not be reached for comment yesterday, but another judicial officer, who is not authorized to speak for the court and asked not to be identified, said Presiding Judge David Wesley—Levanas’ former law partner—notified the bench officers of the selection.
It was not immediately clear when the change would be effective. Nash—who has held the position for about 17 years in two different stints—did not run for reelection this year, and has said he may retire before his term expires in January.
Levanas has been a judge since 2005, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had been elected a commissioner in May 2002 after 25 years of law practice.
Levanas began his legal career with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, where he practiced for five years before becoming a panel lawyer for the dependency court. He served as a panel lawyer for a year and a half before entering private practice with the law firm that became Overland, Berke, Wesley, Gits, Randolph & Levanas.
Wesley named him supervising judge of probate late last year. The presiding judge explained at the time that the previous occupant of the post, Judge Mitchell Beckloff, did a “fantastic” job but wanted to switch to general civil work.
Levanas, who earlier this week issued a highly awaited tentative ruling upholding the right of a trust to sell the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise over the objection of longtime owner Donald Sterling, said in a MetNews interview last year that he did not lobby for the probate position but accepted it because Wesley insisted. He said, with a bit of a laugh, that he secured promises from both Wesley and Assistant Presiding Judge Carolyn Kuhl—Wesley’s presumed successor—that he could leave the post if he chose.
Levanas, who received his undergraduate degree from UC San Diego and earned his law degree from Rutgers Law School in New Jersey and sat as a referee for two years in the early 1980s, would need the approval of the new Superior Court presiding judge to serve as presiding juvenile court judge past this year.
A number of longtime juvenile court bench officers, including Judges Donna Groman, Margaret Henry, and Zeke Zeidler, lobbied heavily for the appointment that went to Levanas, sources familiar with the process said.
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