Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Page 1


Judges Cowell, Sanora to Retire From L.A. Superior Court on Monday

Judges Sterling and Weintraub—Who Opted Not to Seek Reelection—to Leave Their Posts on June 29


By a MetNews Staff Writer







Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Michael Cowell and Steven P. Sanora will be retiring from the bench on Monday.

Additionally, two judges in the county who were up for reelection this year and opted not to run have now pinpointed their retirement dates. Judges Debre Katz Weintraub and William N. Sterling will be leaving office on June 29.

Cowell, appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court on Oct. 27, 1993 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson, is the longest serving of the four judges. He was a part-time Los Angeles Superior Court Juvenile Court referee from 1976-77, then a commissioner of the Superior Court from 1977 until his appointment to a judgeship.

“At various times I have served in six courthouses in Los Angeles County but most of my 43 years on the Superior Court bench have been spent presiding over criminal departments at the Norwalk courthouse,” he said yesterday.

Norwalk Kaffeeklatsches

He remarked:

“A long standing tradition of the judiciary there has been the daily meeting in the supervising judge’s chambers for coffee and pastries before first calendar call. To describe the result as mere collegiality does not do justice to the often raucous good humor that is characteristic of the famed Norwalk kaffeeklatsch and which in turn has made possible the friendships, deep trust and unselfish cooperation that exist among the Norwalk judiciary.

“As much as I welcome retirement, I will miss those gatherings which surely must resume once the pandemic has run its course.”

Cowell received his law degree from UCLA in 1969. That year, he was admitted to the State Bar and became a deputy Los Angeles County public defender.

He was in private law practice from 1972-77.

Davis Appointee

Sanora is an appointee of then-Gov. Gray Davis. He received the nod on Aug. 8, 2002.

The judge earned his law degree at USC. He was a criminal defense lawyer in private practice from 1975 until he was hired in 1992 as a commissioner of the Rio Hondo Municipal Court, becoming a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner in 2000 upon court unification.

“I was in El Monte Court for 25 years and in the Alhambra Court for the last three years,” he noted.

The judge said he is applying for service in the Retired Judges Program.

 “All the people I worked with displayed a high degree of professionalism and dedication,” he reflected, adding:

“The fondest memories I have are seeing new attorneys early in their careers become judicial officers.”

He said he will embark on foreign travels “once the coronavirus is curtailed.”

Travel ‘On Hold’

Sterling’s travel plans are also being thwarted by the epidemic.

“Unfortunately, the global pandemic will limit how I spend my time, at least in the immediate future,” he said. “All travel plans, of course, are on hold.”

He added:

“Right now I am reading, taking long walks with the dogs and tackling previously delayed or ignored tasks all around the house. I had intended to take either Spanish or French classes, or both, but right now it’s just me and my iPad.”

Sterling, also a Davis appointee, was awarded his judgeship on Oct. 3, 2001. He was, at the time, supervising the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

Earlier, he was a deputy public defender.

Sterling received his law degree from New York University in 1973 and was admitted that year to the State Bar of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Lawyer

“I began practicing law in 1973 in suburban Philadelphia,” he recounted, adding that in 1975 he was admitted to the State Bar of California and launched a practice in Los Angeles, and has now been on the bench more than 18 years.

“The time has finally come to do other things,” he said.

Sterling related:

“My fondest memories are of the time I spent with my colleagues, including at breakfast and lunch in the Judges’ Lounge. Great discussions were had about legal issues, current events, movies, tv, sports, trivia and a myriad of other topics.

“I also enjoyed working with so many fine attorneys, as well as my wonderful staff members.”

Will Explore Opportunities

 “In retirement,” Weintraub said yesterday, “I plan to explore opportunities in both the public and private sector.”

Looking back on a judicial career that began with her appointment to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1995 by Wilson, she said:

“On a professional level, serving as the supervising judge of the civil courts for two years was most gratifying.  Supervising over 150 civil courts and responsible for the civil operations for Los Angeles County allowed me to work with an incredible number of outstanding bench officers as well as the amazingly dedicated staff of our court to ensure access to justice for all that use our judicial system through a fair, timely and efficient resolution of the cases.”

Teen Court

Weintraub continued:

“On a more personal level, my involvement with the Teen Court was most fulfilling.  For over 8 years, I served as the presiding judge of the Fairfax Teen Court Program.  The Teen Court Program allowed students from different local schools who had been accused of non-serious crimes to be questioned, judged  and sentenced by a jury of Fairfax high school students.

“The Fairfax students learned about our judicial system and if the juvenile offender completed the sentence their arrest and criminal record was expunged.  Going back to Fairfax, the high school that I attended, never got old and the sense of giving back was always most rewarding.”

Her juris doctor degree is from USC. She also has a master’s degree in law from New York University.

Law Practice

Weintraub was a partner in Loeb and Loeb at the time of her appointment to the bench. She was an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service from 1979-82.

Vying to be her successor are candidates Myanna Dellinger, a University of South Dakota law professor, and Deputy District Attorney Steve Morgan.

Competing in the Nov. 3 general election for Sterling’s seat are criminal defense attorney David Diamond and Deputy District Attorney Scott Yang.


Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company