Tuesday, January 28, 2003
H. Don Christian Elected Superior Court Commissioner, Mulcahy, Rice in Runoff for Second Seat
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Longtime Covina practitioner H. Don Christian has been elected a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner, court officials said yesterday.
Christian, an unsuccessful candidate for the Los Angeles Superior Court last year, said he was happy to have completed the “very long process” of being elected a commissioner. He was the highest-ranked candidate for the election, having moved up the list released by a judicial panel two years ago as other spots were filed.
There will also be a runoff for a second spot, and it will be between the second-ranked candidate, Long Beach practitioner and part-time Superior Court Referee Stuart Rice, and Woodland Hills attorney Dennis Mulcahy, ranked third.
Christian, 60, said he expects to wind down his private practice and take the bench around Feb. 13. He said he had spoken briefly yesterday to Presiding Judge Robert Dukes, but does not yet know what his assignment will be, although he would prefer family law.
“It will be very hard to say goodbye to some of [my clients], but I’m moving on to another phase of my life,” he told the MetNews.
Christian has had a varied background as a practicing lawyer, handling probate, adoptions, family law, and criminal matters with a number of partners at various times over the last 30 years. One of his ex-partners is Superior Court Judge Dan Oki.
Before being admitted to the bar, he was a teacher at Belmont High School, where he worked while attending California State College at Los Angeles and, later, Loyola Law School.
Just five years after receiving his law degree from Loyola in 1970, he joined the faculty at the American College of Law, teaching family law, criminal procedure, and evidence.
He has also lectured in the California State University system on health and safety law and environmental law.
Rice, 48, likewise has a varied practice. He is a partner in a Long Beach firm which serves as conflict counsel in South District juvenile delinquency cases, and also does civil and business litigation and probate work.
He has been an “as-needed” referee in Long Beach for three years.
He is a Boston-area native, having graduated from Tufts University and Northeastern University School of Law. He is also an applicant for a Los Angeles Superior Court appointment, having been evaluated by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation last fall, he said.
Mulcahy, 52, is a Chicago native who graduated from San Fernando Valley College of Law, now part of the University of LaVerne. He came to California after graduation from Quincy College in Quincy, Ill.
He was a deputy public defender from 1977 to 1980, then went into private practice, primarily in criminal defense. He started with two partners but has been by himself since 1984.
He continues to practice primarily in criminal defense, and is a member of the County Bar’s panel that represents indigent defendants when both the public defender and alternate public defender are conflicted out or unavailable. He also does some personal injury work.
A schedule for the mailing, return, and counting of runoff ballots has not yet been set, a court spokesman said.
Whichever candidate loses the runoff will become the highest-ranked candidate on the list to fill future vacancies, followed by Riverside Superior Court Commissioner Gretchen W. Taylor, Deputy Public Defender Lisa Brackelmanns; Referee Brian Petraborg; Long Beach attorney and onetime Antelope Municipal Court candidate Joel Wallenstein, Torrance attorney and “as-needed” Referee Steven Lee Berman; Referee Anthony Trendacosta; Downey lawyer Daniel Wilson; Los Angeles attorney Joseph Sheehan; Santa Monica family law specialist Susan Weiss; Beverly Hills attorney Marilyn Nelson; and Santa Monica criminal law specialist Steven Hauser.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company