Thursday, January 17, 2002
High Court Rejects Couwenberg’s Bid to Resume Practicing Law
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick Couwenberg’s bid to resume practicing law was rejected yesterday by the state Supreme Court.
In a brief order following yesterday’s weekly court conference, Chief Justice Ronald M. George said the court had denied Couwenberg’s petition for a hearing in the State Bar Court on his fitness to practice. The ex-jurist may, however, bring an “original motion for reinstatement before the State Bar,” the order said.
The order cited the case of Glenda Doan, a former Kings County Municipal Court judge removed from office in 1995. The high court denied Doan’s bid for immediate reinstatement as a lawyer, but said she could file a motion with the State Bar and seek reinstatement “proof of her rehabilitation, present fitness to practice, and present learning and ability in the general law.”
Couwenberg was ordered removed from the bench last August after the Commission on Judicial Performance found that he had, among other misconduct, falsified his application for appointment to the bench.
He did not contest the CJP’s removal order, but petitioned the high court last November to order a State Bar Court determination as to whether he was fit to practice.
Couwenberg’s attorney, Edward P. George, was unavailable for comment yesterday. George said at the time the petition was filed that while the request was unusual, referring the matter to the State Bar Court would be “a perfectly logical thing for [the justices] to do.”
In other action taken at the conference, the justices:
•Let stand an unpublished Oct. 25 ruling by the First District Court of Appeal permitting the humane destruction of the 120-pound Presa Canario dog whom officials found to have mauled and killed a college lacrosse coach in San Francisco. The dog’s owners, attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, face a homicide trial which has been ordered moved to Los Angeles because of prejudicial publicity in the Bay Area.
•Approved broadcast and still-photo coverage of Feb. 6 arguments in Sacramento in the case of Patrick Ghilotti, scheduled to be the first prison inmate freed after being committed for treatment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The court is to decide whether Ghilotti can be recommitted after mental health experts appointed under the act determined that he no longer fits the statutory criteria for involuntary hospitalization. A Court of Appeal panel said he could not.
•Agreed to decide whether there is a state or federal constitutional right to become, or to vote for, a write-in candidate at every election. The First District Court of Appeal ruled on Oct. 30 in Edelstein v. Fado, 93 Cal.App.4th 460, that past Supreme Court decisions create such a right. The ruling invalidated a San Francisco charter provision that officials interpreted as barring write-ins in runoff elections for city office.
•Agreed to decide whether lots and fragments of lots depicted on an antiquated subdivision map recorded prior to 1893, when the first California statute regulating subdivision maps took effect, may be recognized as legal parcels. The First District Court of Appeal said no last October in Gardner v. County of Sonoma.
•Agreed to review an Oct. 17 First District ruling that “community service statements,” in which insurers disclose how much business they do within each ZIP code, are subject to public inspection. The case is State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Low.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company