Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, March 31, 2017


Page 1


Justice Richard Aldrich to Retire From C.A.





Court of Appeal Justice

Justice Richard Aldrich will retire from Div. Three of this district’s Court of Appeal at the end of June, court Clerk/Administrator Joseph Lane said yesterday.

Aldrich,78,was unavailable for comment. He has been a justice since 1994, after having been appointed to the Ventura Superior Court in 1991. His judicial career followed 28 years in law practice, the last 20 as head of his own firm, specializing in civil litigation.

He was recognized as a leader in the field, heading the local chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. The Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association named him Trial Judge of the Year in his first year on the local bench.

The California Judicial Council named him Jurist of the Year in 2006. The purpose of the award, the then-Administrative Office of the Courts said in a press release at the time, is to “honor[ ] members of the judiciary for their extraordinary dedication to the highest principles of the administration of justice statewide.”

Aldrich, it was noted, “has worked to improve the access of self-represented litigants and persons with disabilities to the courts and was instrumental in establishing complex litigation courts in California.”

In 2007, he was honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates with the William J. Rea Jurist of the Year Award for “civility, professionalism and commitment to an independent judiciary.”

He became embroiled in a short-lived controversy in 2008 when a national magazine published  an article asserting that he “turned to” the then-chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corp. for refinancing of his home and suggesting a relationship between the refinancing and a case before the court.

In an interview with the MetNews Aldrich said the reference to him in an article in the August 2008 issue of Conde Nast Portfolio was “absolutely wrong and false.” The article by reporter Dan Golden was entitled “Angelo’s Many Friends,” referring to Angelo Mozilo, who founded Countrywide in 1969 and built into the largest home lender in the United States before financial problems forced it into a recent merger with Bank of America.

The article referenced a 2004 transaction in which Aldrich refinanced his house next to a country club. Aldrich, Golden wrote, “turned to a prominent Sherwood member,” Mozilo.

In seeking a retraction, Aldrich declared that he “never discussed” the loan with Mozilo and “never had a discussion about any topic with Mr. Mozilo or any other executive at Countrywide.”

He dealt with Countrywide, he explained, because they had been his home lender since the 1970s. He said he was never told, and never thought, that the rate had anything to do with his being a judicial officer, and certainly not with his involvement in a particular case, to which Countrywide was only a tangential party.

He added that he has only met Mozilo on about three occasions.

Kitching and Croskey, who were on the panel in the case, which dealt with an objection to a class action settlement involving Countrywide, said they reviewed the matter after the article appeared and found no wrongdoing on Aldrich’s part. Aldrich said he reported the matter to the Commission on Judicial Performance, which took no public action.

Portfolio refused to issue a retraction. Aldrich did not sue the magazine, which folded the next year.

Aldrich has been the senior member of his division since Justice Patti Kitching retired two years ago. But he was the junior member not long before that.

His retirement will complete a wholesale replacement of the division over less than three years. Justice Walter Croskey died in August 2014; Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein did not seek reelection that year.


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