Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, April 28, 2022


Page 3


A Judge Reflects on Her Career in Law


By Holly E. Kendig

(The writer is a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. The following is in response to a request for her thoughts as she prepares to depart from the bench.)



 WAS APPOINTED TO THE SUPERIOR COURT in 2003 by then- Gov. Gray Davis. I was inspired to become a judge at the Yale Law School, where judicial service was deemed to be the highest honor an attorney could achieve. I was also drawn to the bench because it was a way to give back to the community. At the time of my appointment, I was a partner of the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, and in 1983 had become the first woman litigation partner. Before that, I was an associate in the Litigation Department of O’Melveny & Myers for seven years.

I have had a broad range of assignments in the Los Angeles Superior Court, beginning in the Criminal Misdemeanor Department in the Metropolitan and Foltz Courthouses, and proceeding next to a Civil Unlimited Department in the North Valley in the Chatsworth Courthouse. Important judicial mentors in the North Valley included Judge John Farrell and Judge Howard Schwab. Like Judge Schwab, I fell in love with the trial bench. I then served in an independent calendar court in Stanley Mosk Courthouse until 2019, and then transferred to the Trial Court Department where I conducted trials and mandatory settlement conferences.

Early in my judicial career, I was honored to be asked to serve on the California Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions in 2005. I also served on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Trial Jurors Committee from 2003-22, and served as chair of the LASC’s Trial Jurors Committee from 2012-22. More recently, I served on the Los Angeles Superior court Special Committee on Civil Jury Trials and Covid, 2021-22.

Loves Jury Trials

Jury trials and jury issues provide my happiest memories of service in our system of justice. I love jury trials. I believe in jury trials. It is a privilege and honor to preside over a jury trial. I have been very impressed with the quality and dedication of our jurors in the Los Angeles Superior Court. They take their job seriously, and understand that, in a jury trial, they are responsible for providing due process and delivering justice. In a jury trial, the jurors act as 12 impartial judges. They consider the evidence and determine what happened in the particular case. They listen to the witnesses and decide who they believe. They are the backbone of our judicial system. And the jurors who had the opportunity to serve on a jury tell us that they were the lucky ones. They know that they played their role in making our justice system and our democracy work. It is truly rewarding to preside over jury trials.

I have a framed letter from a former juror on my chambers wall. He was a Secret Service agent who had previously been bumped from jury service because of his law enforcement career. He wrote me after the case was over and told me that before the trial he had lost some faith in the jury system but his experience changed his mind. He told me that I would have been impressed to see how carefully the jurors examined the evidence and he told me that his jury experience was “one of the highlights of his personal life.” It was an inspiring letter.

I find the ebb and flow of a trial court the most satisfying assignment for a judge. Life walks into your court and brings people with a whole range of problems and disputes. Trial courts resolve these disputes and are the source of justice and fairness for ordinary citizens in our system of justice. During the past few years when Covid slowed or halted jury trials, I found myself conducting voluntary and mandatory settlement conferences for the Los Angeles Superior Court, which were among some of my most rewarding experiences.

Membership on Boards

Over the years I represented the Los Angeles Superior Court on the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Litigation Section Executive Committee (2013-17). I also served as a judicial board member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (2010-12), and on the Judicial Advisory Council of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (2016-18). I have been a member of the National Association of Women Judges from 2005-22, the California Judges Association from 2003-22, and a member of the Chancery Club from 2001-22. I also served as a board member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles from 1992-94.

My last few years on the bench have been in one of the historic courtrooms of Los Angeles at the Spring Street Courthouse, which was built after the Great Depression in 1938-39. The craftsmanship and history of that courthouse are unlike any other in Los Angeles County. I feel lucky and privileged to preside over trials in such a historic and beautiful courthouse.

After retiring, I plan to read a lot of books, spend a lot of time in the Midwest with my 96-year-old father, resume language study in French, and make plans to resume traveling, especially travel plans that were suddenly postponed during Covid in 2020. And after that, perhaps I will find some new interesting connection with the law or public service.


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