Thursday, September 12, 2002
Dukes, MacLaughlin Deemed Elected to Top Court Posts
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Robert Dukes and William MacLaughlin were deemed elected yesterday as the court’s presiding and assistant presiding judges when nominations closed without anyone else submitting papers.
Dukes, the current assistant presiding judge, was long assumed to be elevated to the top post in accordance with tradition. MacLaughlin made his plans to run for the number two spot a year ago, and no one emerged to challenge him.
The nominations period opened Sept. 4 and closed at noon yesterday.
Each judge will serve in their new leadership posts for a two-year term beginning Jan. 1. If tradition is followed, MacLaughlin will become presiding judge in 2005.
The court’s presiding judge has final authority to assign more than 600 bench officers to any of 50 courthouses around the county. The presiding judge also assigns the judicial leadership of the Juvenile Court, the family, criminal and mental health courts, and each of the district branch courts.
The Superior Court is the largest trial court in the world and manages hundreds of thousands of civil and criminal matters each year.
The assistant presiding judge has no assigned duties other than to serve in the presiding judge’s absence, but as a practical matter typically handles special administrative tasks.
Dukes noted that it was the first time since the 2001 unification between the Superior Court and the county’s 24 municipal courts that there was an opportunity to file for presiding judge.
“I like to think that my colleagues believe [Presiding Judge] Jim Bascue and I are working in the best interest of the court,” he said.
Dukes said it was clear that his top priority would be managing the court with shrinking financial resources.
“It was a goal after unification that we not lose what the municipal courts represent to the communities,” Dukes said. “Our job is to figure out how to rationally and reasonably downsize without in any way affecting our core function.”
Dukes, who turns 54 Sept. 24, is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney and Pomona Municipal Court judge. He was appointed to the Superior Court in 1989.
As presiding judge, his salary will increase to $145,061.
He earned his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1976.
MacLaughlin, 67, was appointed to the Superior Court in 1992 after a long career as a private practitioner. He earned his law degree from Yale in 1960.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company