Tuesday, September 22, 2020
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gilbert M. Lopez is retiring from the bench after 25 years of judicial service.
Although he will be hanging up his robe on Oct. 23, Lopez will then use up available vacation days and officially retire on Dec. 12.
His judicial career began in 1995 as a Southeast Municipal Court commissioner, becoming a commissioner of the Superior Court as a result of trial court unification in the county in 2000. He was named to a judgeship by then-Gov. Gray Davis on Dec. 26, 2001.
Lopez, a native American, received his law degree from Loyola University. Enabling him to complete his studies was a Beverly Hills Bar Association Foundation scholarship.
He became a partner in the law firm of Genista & Lopez, and was then a sole practitioner from 1990-95. Lopez specialized in immigration law.
Chief Justice’s Praise
Lopez drew praise from then-Chief Justice Ronald M. George in two “State of the Judiciary” addresses before joint sessions of the California Legislature in which he bemoaned the lack of adequate funding for courthouses and facilities.
On Feb. 23, 1998, George remarked:
“[I]n Huntington Park’s courthouse, I found one individual, Commissioner Gilbert Lopez, whose situation in many ways symbolizes how the best of our system can rise above the worst.
“On the downside, the much needed additional courtroom occupied by Commissioner Lopez was created from the jury assembly room, and his chambers were fashioned from space appropriated from a public restroom. When this reconstruction was completed, no money was left to furnish either area, and this is where some of the best comes in.
“The commissioner, in his home workshop and at his own expense, built the jury box, bench, and bailiff’s desk for his courtroom, and the furniture for his chambers. his can-do spirit and concrete contribution provide a tangible symbol of the willingness of judicial officers and staff to take that extra step far beyond their job descriptions to make sure that the system can function and the public can be properly served.”
George, in his Feb. 28, 2006 “State of the Judiciary” address, again recited what Lopez did, noting that the jurist—by then a judge—was a “[a] skilled carpenter.” He remarked:
“We cannot, however, make carpentry skills a prerequisite for appointment to the bench.”
The judge drew controversy in 2006 in connection with use of the court’s email system in urging attendance at a fundraiser for a candidate for a Superior Court open seat, then-Deputy City Attorney Deborah Sanchez, who did win election and remains a judge of the court.
In a 2012 response to a request for public comments on a report commissioned by the Judicial Council, Lopez said of George’s praise of him:
“I am not unique. The vast majority of judges that I know dedicate their lives to there judicial functions and volunteer their own time for the benefit of access to justice.”
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