Jurist Draws Praise for Outstanding Service As Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Buckley, who led his court as its presiding judge in 2017 and 2018, will hang up his robe after Friday’s session of Department One in the Spring Street Courthouse, ending a judicial career that spanned two decades.
Buckley will then use up earned vacation days and officially retire on May 2.
Former Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile commented yesterday:
“Dan was a wonderful leader, true visionary and a talented and dedicated jurists. He was also a fantastic mentor and a brilliant legal teacher and instructor.
“He was the consummate professional who had a warm, charming and engaging personality. He had that rare ability to make everyone around him better.
“I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
DANIEL J. BUCKLEY
Superior Court Judge
Chief Justice’s Praise
Chief Justice Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye remarked:
“Judge Buckley was a wise and steady voice during his four years on the Judicial Council of California and another eight years on various advisory committees. I appointed him to the council in 2014 and he made an immediate and positive impression with his thoughtfulness, civility, and humor.
“As a council member, he recognized that he had a statewide duty to serve all Californians and court users, not just those in one part of the state. He is the personification of public service.”
Lee Edmon, the presiding justice of Div. Three of this district’s Court of Appeal, is a former presiding judge of the Superior Court. She said of Buckley:
“In my view, Dan Buckley was one of the best presiding judges of the L.A. Superior Court in recent years. He cared deeply about all of the judges, about the institution and about serving the public.
“As a former chair of the court’s technology committee and in his management roles, he deserves a lot of credit for transitioning the court to electronic case management and for the foundation for the current electronic filing systems and remote technology. Some of that was implemented after he left as PJ, but he deserves much credit for laying the groundwork.
“As a sitting judge, for years he has helped resolve some of the most complex litigation pending before the court. Lawyers love being assigned to his courtroom and trying cases before him. His demeanor, civility and humor distinguish him from many judges. The court, and so many of us, will miss him being an active member of the bench but we’re grateful for his friendship and know we will still see him.”
Buckley was appointed to the Superior Court in 2002 by then-Gov, Gray Davis.
At the time of the appointment, Buckley was the managing partner of the firm of Breidenbach, Buckley, Huchting, Halm, and Hamblet. The “Halm” in that firm was Howard L. Halm who served as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court from 2009-18.
The firm has, through the years, been known by various names, including Breidenbach, Swainston, Crispo & Way. Lawrence W. Crispo was a judge of Superior Court from 1994-2004.
It was Crispo who interviewed Buckley in 1980 when he applied for a job.
“The partners of the firm agreed that Dan would become a superstar when we hired him as an associate,” Crispo recalled in 2018.
Another partner in the firm was William F. Rylaarsdam who served on the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Orange Superior Court prior to a stint from 1995-2016 on Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Richard Rico, a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge from 1999-2000 and a judge of the Superior Court from 2000-20, was a shareholder in the firm.
‘Walking Dead’ Ruling
Buckley has handled a wide gamut of cases, including probate matters and complex litigation.
Numerous high profile cases have been assigned to him. On April 6—in the climax to litigation commenced in 2017—he ruled that producers of the television series, “Walking Dead,” were not cheated out of profits by AMC through manipulation of contract language.
The judge earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Notre Dame. He is an avid fan of the Fighting Irish.
His reflections on his years on the bench appear below.
BY DANIEL J. BUCKLEY
hen asked for the highlights of my judicial career, I realize how lucky I have been.
I meant it when I said many times while Presiding Judge: Los Angeles Superior Court is the best damn court in the country. The first thing said about our court is the fact it is the largest court in the country, probably the world. But that size is overshadowed by the depth of talent of our judicial officers and staff. And I was able to fully experience all the court offers to judicial officers. I was able to sit in a district and downtown. I sat in many types of courts: misdemeanors, felonies, probate and civil, culminating in the best assignment in our court, complex civil.
The opportunity to serve in court leadership was a gift. I was able to serve those who serve the public. I had the opportunity to supervise a district (East District) as well as a discipline (Civil). The best part of being Presiding Judge was to work closely with Sherri Carter and her phenomenal Executive Team. Or maybe the best part was working with the talented and dedicated supervising judges during those two years. I am most proud of the advancements we made in technology and the court’s first and only conference for all judicial officers. Or maybe I am most proud that I was able to know almost all of our 570 judicial officers. I dare say I may be the Presiding Judge who most enjoyed the work. (Of course, I did not serve during a pandemic or severe budget cut.)
I love teaching and was able to teach so many classes in LA and throughout the state on evidence, ethics, technology, civil, and criminal. (This was in addition to my serving as an adjunct professor at the law schools at Notre Dame, USC and Loyola.) I experienced firsthand that the teacher learns more than the student. The ultimate highlight each year was teaching New Judge Orientation which covers ethics, fairness and courtroom management for first year judges and commissioners. I was reenergized each time I taught this week-long class and was always in awe of the talent and compassion of the new judicial officers.
I was able to meet and work with judges, justices and CEOs throughout the state on many committees and working groups. That work, with the teaching, has allowed me to know at least one judicial officer or executive in each of the 58 superior courts and develop close friendships with hundreds throughout the state. In addition to the honor of serving on the Judicial Council, I was able to work on issues of court budgets, court administration, technology, ethics and judicial training.
Yes, I was very lucky.
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