Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 11, 2020


Page 1


Jessner, Rice to Compete for Position of Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge

Current Assistant Presiding Judge Eric Taylor, As Expected, Draws No Opposition for P.J. Spot


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Judges Samantha P. Jessner and Stuart M. Rice are competing for the post of Los Angeles Superior Court assistant presiding judge for 2021 and 2022 which, if tradition is followed, means serving as the presiding judge in 2023 and 2024.

As expected, the current assistant presiding judge, Eric C. Taylor, drew no opposition for the post of presiding judge and will take office on Jan. 1. The nominating period closed at noon on Wednesday.




Los Angeles Superior Court Judges


 Ballots will be distributed to the judges of the court on Sept. 23. They will be counted on Oct. 7, starting at noon, by the three judges with greatest seniority who are willing to undertake the task.

Certifying on Wednesday that Taylor was elected and Jessner and Rice are in a contest were former Presiding Judges Victor E. Chavez, William A. MacLaughlin and Carolyn B. Kuhl.

Jessner is supervising judge of the court’s Civil Division and Rice is a former president of the California Judges Association (“CJA”).

While Jessner is seen as the favorite in the race, so was then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon (now a private judge), who was trounced in balloting by Taylor two years ago.

Jessner’s Appointment

Jessner was appointed to the Superior Court in 2007 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her law degree is from the University of California, Berkeley.

After practicing for three years with the law firm of Sheppard, Muffin, Richter & Hampton, she became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California in 1994. She then served as counsel for The Boeing Company, became an assistant inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Commission, and returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, serving as director of the Financial Crimes Task Force.

Jessner is the daughter of former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Patricia Phillips. The judge’s husband, Gregory Jessner, is one of Phillips’s law partners in Phillips Jessner.

Rice’s Judgeship

Rice was also given a Superior Court judgeship by Schwarzenegger. His law degree was earned at Northeastern University.

He was a member of the law firm of Gottlieb, Gottlieb and Stein, and then became a partner in Rice and Rothenberg. Rice was elected by the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court as a commissioner in 2003, and received his appointment as a judge in 2005.

When he was elected in 2017 as head of the CJA, Rice remarked: “I’m looking forward to serving the interests of judges.”

He was active as the CJA president in seeking legislation to assist the courts.

Taylor is also a former CJA president, and was the first judge to head that group twice—in 2003-04 and 2015-16.

He was appointed to the Inglewood Municipal Court in 1998, and was its presiding judge at the time the municipal courts merged into the Superior Court in 2000.

When his appointment came, Taylor was a deputy county counsel for Los Angeles County. He was previously a member of the firm of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal, and at the former law offices of Pettit and Martin.

In 1986, he was an extern to California Supreme Court Justice Allen E. Broussard (since deceased).

His law degree is from the University of Virginia.

Taylor is the son of the late John C. Taylor, who was a “freedom rider” in the south in 1961 at the dawn of the civil rights movement.


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