Judge Recana Looks Back on Years on Bench
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana—who has opted not to seek reelection and has urged Deputy District Attorney Keith Koyano to seek election to his seat—has provided the following reflections in response to an inquiry.
plan to spend time with my family. Having worked all my life, I know that after a couple of months I will be looking for something to do.
As to my fondest recollection of my judicial service, I remember Gov. Jerry Brown himself calling me about my appointment. He said: “Mel, we are making history today. You will be the first Filipino-American judge in the USA.” He swore me in personally at the McArthur Park on June 13, 1981, in front of Filipino-Americans celebrating the Philippine Independence Day. Little did I know then that he would also appoint my son Julian thirty four years after. Given the term limits for governors, it is a feat that will never be replicated.
I initiated legislation for the Judges Sabbatical Leave Law (Government. Code §68554) so I could attend the Kennedy School of Government for my MPA. I remember PJ Karl Yeager when I asked him how I could take a sabbatical leave when the law then allowed me only 90 days. Karl, former mayor of Montebello(?) said, “If you don’t have the law, then make one.”
In preparation for my run for Assistant PJ of the LA Municipal Court, I attended the National State Courts, Institute for Court Management, the “Harvard School for Court Managers” graduating as one of the two valedictorians.
I had many memorable cases with very good lawyers, but the one that stands out is the sexual harassment case of James Brown, the Father of Soul Music.
I love this job. I am going to miss it. But according to the words of the wise, “We should leave while the host still wants us to stay.”
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