Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Page 1


Davis Names Superior Court’s Zelon, Flier to Court of Appeal

Governor Appoints Four Others to Appellate Benches, Two to Santa Barbara Superior Court


By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer


Gov. Gray Davis yesterday appointed Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Laurie Zelon and Madeleine Flier to this district’s Court of Appeal.

The governor also made four appointments to three other appellate courts and named an attorney and a court commissioner to the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

All of those named to the appellate bench are current Superior Court judges except for Justice Judith McConnell, currently an associate justice in Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, who was named the division’s presiding justice.

Zelon, 50, will fill the vacancy created in Div. Seven by the appointment of Justice Donald Perluss to the position of presiding justice. Perluss succeeded Presiding Justice Mildred Lillie, who was presiding justice for 18 years and served on the Court of Appeal for 44 years.

Lillie died in October at age 87.

Flier, 63, will join Div. Eight, bringing that division to a full compliment of four judges for the first time in its history. The division came into being in January of 2001 under SB 1857 and its first justices—Presiding Justice Candace Cooper and Justices Paul Boland and Laurence D. Rubin—were appointed in October of that year.

Other Appointments

The governor’s other judicial appointments yesterday were:

San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Irion, 47, to Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal;

Merced Superior Court Judge Betty L. Dawson, 55, to the Fifth District Court of Appeal;

Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Richard J. McAdams, 59, to the Sixth District Court of Appeal; and

Santa Barbara Superior Court Commissioner Arthur A. Garcia, 50, and former Santa Barbara and Ventura Assistant District Attorney George C. Eskin, 65, to the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Zelon and Perluss are longtime colleagues, and Perluss said yesterday she will “make a fabulous addition to the Court of Appeal.” He noted they practiced together for nearly 20 years, first at Hufstedler, Kaus & Beardsley and then, after a short period during which they were not together, at Morrison & Foerster.

They have also worked together in bar activities, Perluss said. Zelon is a former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and has served on several State Bar and American Bar Association committees.

“This is the best news I could imagine,” Perluss declared, describing Zelon as “absolutely brilliant, just an outstanding legal mind, and a very clear writer.”

The presiding justice disclaimed any personal responsibility for bringing his colleague aboard.

“I certainly from time to time expressed my views, but the talent pool was pretty rich,” Perluss said. “It would have been hard not make outstanding appointments from that group.”

In addition to Zelon and Flier, the list of potential appointees reviewed by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation included Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Gregory Alarcón, Ralph Dau, Emilie Elias, Marvin Lager, Charles Lee, Richard Rico, Aurelio Munoz, and Thomas Willhite Jr.

Zelon was named to the Superior Court by Davis in 2000. Both she and Flier preside over direct calendar civil courts at the downtown courthouse.

Zelon earned her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and attended law school at Harvard. The Pro Bono Institute in Washington, D.C. has named an award, “The Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award,” in her honor.

In 2000 she won the Loren Miller Legal Services Award, given each year by the State Bar to an attorney who demonstrates a long-term commitment to legal services for the indigent.

‘Great Addition’

Cooper said Flier will be “a great addition” to Div. Eight. “I think very highly of her,” the presiding justice commented.

She added:

“I am delighted to be at full compliment.”

Cooper said that while she, Boland and Rubin will be happy for the help, they have not felt handicapped during their two years of work as a three-justice division.

“We’re good hard workers and we’re keeping up,” Cooper declared.

Flier was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1977 and elevated by Brown to the Superior Court in 1980.

She was the first woman to become assistant Los Angeles city attorney, and worked in the City Attorney’s Office from 1968 to 1977. She has been a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance since 1999.

Flier has been a member of the Los Angeles County Law Library Board of Trustees for many years and was the board’s president from 1996 to 1997. She earned her law degree at the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law after undergraduate studies at UCLA.

The Court of Appeal justices appointed yesterday are subject to confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and will be paid $159,657 annually. The commission includes Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the presiding justice (or, in the case of courts with multiple divisions, the senior presiding justice) of the Court of Appeal to which the appointment is made.

For the two appointments to this district’s Court of Appeal, the commission will include Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of Div. Three.

McConnell’s appointment as presiding justice of the Fourth District’s Div. One had been expected. Presiding Justice Daniel Kremer retired July 31, and named Justice Richard D. Huffman to serve as acting presiding justice.

Huffman was also named acting administrative presiding justice for the Fourth District by George.

McConnell, 59, was named to Div. One by Davis in 2001. She was previously a San Diego Superior Court judge and before that a San Diego Municipal Court judge.

Irion was appointed by Davis to the San Diego Superior Court in 2000. She currently presides over a Family Law Department in the court’s North County Division.

Before her appointment to the bench, she was a member and managing partner of the San Diego office of the law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White and McAuliffe. She has been a member of the State Bar Board of Governors and the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission, president of the California Young Lawyers Association, a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, and co-chair of the ABA Tax Litigation Committee.

Irion earned her undergraduate and law degrees from UC Davis and a master of public administration degree from San Diego State University. She will replace McConnell upon McConnell’s confirmation as Presiding Justice.

Dawson is presiding judge of the Merced Superior Court, to which she was appointed by Davis in 2000. She previously served as a court commissioner on the Merced Municipal and Superior Courts from 1992 to 2000.

In July 2001, she served as a Court of Appeal justice pro tem and she has also served on the Superior Court’s appellate panel. Dawson was a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School from 1978 to 1979 and a research attorney for the First District Court of Appeal from 1979 to 1980.

Bar President

As a private attorney, she specialized in appellate work and also handled personal injury, probate and family law cases. She has been president of the Merced County Bar Association and a planning commissioner for the City of Merced.

Dawson earned her undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University and her law degree from Hastings Law School. Upon confirmation she will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice James Thaxter.

McAdams has been a trial judge since 1977, when he was appointed by Brown to the Santa Cruz Municipal Court. He was elected to the Santa Cruz Superior Court in 1998.

He has handled a wide variety of assignments and trials, including juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, family law, probate, domestic violence, felonies, misdemeanors, traffic, civil and small claims cases. He also served as presiding judge of the Appellate Department.

Since 1999, he has been presiding over a general civil department, where he is responsible for half of all civil cases filed in the County.

McAdams began his legal career in 1969 as an associate at Jarvis, Miller & Stender, handling personal injury cases. From 1970 to 1973, he was an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Santa Cruz County, where he handled civil litigation on behalf of the elderly, consumers and tenants.

From 1973 to 1974, he was a partner at Fox, McAdams & Popin, where he handled civil litigation, personal injury, family law, workers’ compensation and small business matters.

McAdams earned his undergraduate degree from the UC Berkeley, and his law degree from Hastings Law School. Upon confirmation, he will replace Justice Conrad Rushing, who was elevated to the position of presiding justice of the Sixth District.

Eskin began his career as a deputy district attorney in Ventura County in 1966. After only two years in that office, he was promoted to the position of Assistant District Attorney, the second highest post in the office.

From 1971 to 1975, he was in private practice, handling civil litigation, criminal and juvenile cases. From 1975 to 1976, he served as the Assistant District Attorney and head of the Special Operations Division of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

In 1976, he was appointed as Chief Assistant City Attorney in charge of the Criminal Division of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, the largest municipal prosecution agency in the United States. After leaving the City Attorney’s Office in 1981, Eskin entered private practice in Santa Barbara and Ventura with the firm of Eskin and Jackson.

Eskin has served on the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission of the State Bar. He earned his law degree at UCLA Law School.

He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Harry Loberg.

Garcia has served as a bench officer for the last seven years, presiding over juvenile delinquency and dependency cases, family support cases, criminal arraignments, family law matters and the domestic violence and juvenile drug calendars. He previously was a partner in the firm of Chern, Brennenman & Garcia, which he joined in 1978.

He earned his law degree at Loyola Law School and will replace Judge Rick Brown, who retired.

The new Superior Court judges will receive salaries of $139,476.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company