By a MetNews Staff Writer
IRMA J. BROWN
Superior Court Judge
Irma J. Brown has slated a Jan. 27 retirement as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
“After 39 years, more than half of my life, I am retiring from judicial service,” she said. “It has been an extraordinary experience and privilege to be a member of the judiciary and to work with such dynamic colleagues and an exceptional support system.”
She was freshman class president, then student body president at Loyola Marymount University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Her law degree was earned at Loyola in 1973.
Brown joined the staff of the Greater Watts Justice Center of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles in 1975, and that year, became a co-founder of Black Women Lawyers. She was the organization’s second president, serving in 1976-78.
During that time, she gave a talk which changed the life of one of those in attendance who, in a 2015 interview, described the speaker as a “young, very hip African American woman lawyer” from Los Angeles. What Brown said was so inspiring to the listener that, she recounted, “After that, I was on a mission to go to law school.”
Jackie Lacey did go to law school, and served as district attorney of Los Angeles County in 2012-2020.
Brown in 1977 moved over to a law firm that came to be named Hudson, Sandoz, and Brown when she became a partner the following year. The “Sanzoz” in the firm was John Henry Sandoz (now deceased), who was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1995, retiring in 2006.
She remained with the firm until her election in 1982 by the judges of the Compton Municipal Court as a commissioner.
On Jan. 27, l986, then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Brown, to a judgeship on the municipal court on which she was serving.
That year, she drew an election challenge from attorney John Ortega (now deceased). The Los Angeles Times said, in endorsing her:
“Brown served four years as a commissioner in the high-volume Compton court before Gov. George Deukmejian named her as a judge this year. She is intelligent, compassionate and hard-working. Her opponent, an attorney, says that he ‘just wanted to change his career.’ It is the closest thing to a frivolous challenge that we have seen in some years; it should be defeated.”
The Daily Breeze, in the course of an endorsement, noted:
“If elected, Brown would like to focus on doing away with the court backlog. She said that her Compton Court, which includes all of Carson, already accepts cases from downtown courts and the Southgate district.
“She says there has to be some way to ‘eliminate the number of cases coming into the court.’”
The Los Angeles County Bar Association gave Brown what was then its highest rating—“well qualified”—while branding Ortega “not qualified.”
Brown was the victor, pulling 71 percent of the vote.
In 1987, she sentenced a man who dragged his horse behind his pickup 2½ miles through the streets of Carson to 45 days in jail after he pled guilty to a charge of cruelty to an animal, fining him $255 and requiring him to perform 200 hours of community service.
Joins Superior Court
She became a judge of the Superior Court in 2000 as a result of court unification.
Brown served as supervising judge of the Juvenile Delinquency Court in Inglewood. At present, she is using up earned vacation time.
“I’m happy to have more time to spend with family and friends, no specific plans, but ready for my next chapter,” Brown, 71, remarked.
“My fondest memories are all about working in my juvenile delinquency assignment inspiring and encouraging young people to understand that they can overcome circumstances and situations to become contributing members of society and the value of education,” she said.
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