Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, January 17, 2024


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Judges Hall, Nelson, Stern to Retire From LASC


By a MetNews Staff Writer



Superior Court judge

Henry J. Hall is among three Los Angeles Superior Court judges who are readying to retire.

His last day on the bench will be Feb. 2 and, after using up earned vacation days, he will officially retire on March 21.

Judge Michael L. Stern will hang up his robe after tomorrow’s court session and will officially retire on March 7, while Judge Maren Nelson will actually depart the court on Feb. 9 and will officially leave on March 22.

Hall said yesterday:

“From the time I was in elementary school I have been fascinated by the justice system. I consider myself to have been a part of it for the nearly 17 years that I have been on the bench and the almost 30 that I spent with the Public Defender’s Office and the Alternate Public Defender’s Office.

“I have had a number of serious and high profile cases (including those labeled by the press as Night Stalker, the Ennis Cosby case, the Southside Serial Killer, the Universal City Mother’s Day Massacre) as an attorney and many from the bench that have raised interesting issues and challenges.”

‘Positive Difference’

He added:

“In terms of individual cases, my fondest memories from the bench are not of the ‘biggest’ or most serious cases, but rather of the cases where I felt that I made a positive difference in a person’s life and society in general. For example, I placed one defendant on probation convicted in connection with a civil protest with a substantial amount of community service to be performed at a public service law firm. This defendant later decided to go to law school and is now practicing public interest law where I believe she will more effectively advocate for the causes she believes in.

“We tend to look at the criminal courts as resolving factual disputes and meting out punishment, but the most rewarding things are those that end up with a positive result.”

Hall received his law degree from Loyola in 1976 and went to work the following year for the Public Defender’s Office, switching to the Alternate Public Defender’s Office 24 years later. He was a head deputy in that office at the time of his election in 2007 by judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court as a commissioner.

Working With Colleagues

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to a judgeship on July 16, 2009. Hall reflected yesterday:

 “Working with and collaborating with my cohort of dedicated and talented colleagues on the bench and in the judicial system is something that I will never forget. As an advocate, you develop a certain view of the bench, but as a bench officer you come to recognize that your fellow bench officers are generally very committed to performing the role that society has given us to ensure that disputes, be they criminal or civil, are resolved in a way that is just, and just as importantly, that the parties feel that they have been heard and treated fairly.”

He related:

“I look at retirement as an opportunity to have new adventures that were not as possible before. We certainly plan to travel and be able to take whatever time is necessary to enjoy it to the fullest. For example, we are planning to drive the Alcan Highway through Canada up to Alaska and to walk the Camino, adventures that would not be possible with the limited time available with a full-time legal or judicial practice. I also intend to break out my guitar, get recertified to scuba dive, and start golfing again after decades off.”

Nelson’s law degree is from USC. From 1981-87, she was an associate at Overton, Lyman & Prince, then joined Morrison & Foerster where she was an associate, then a partner.

She was elected a commissioner in 2004 and was appointed as a judge by Schwarzenegger in 2009.

 Nelson drew an election challenge in 2010 which failed.

Stern received a law degree from Harvard in 1971, then obtained an LL.M. in legal history from the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall the following year. He was a federal prosecutor for 13 years, became a private practitioner in 1984, handling business litigation, and was appointed to the bench in 2001 by then-Gov. Gray Davis.

Several articles by him were published in the Advocate Magazine.

Neither Nelson nor Stern provided comments on plans or reflections.


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