Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Alban I. Niles Named State Bar Court Hearing Judge by Assembly Speaker
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alban I. Niles has been named a State Bar Court hearing judge, the bar court’s top administrator said yesterday.
Administrative Officer/Court Counsel Scott Drexel said that Niles had been selected by Assembly Speaker Herbert Wesson, D-Culver City, to fill the Los Angeles-based position now held by Paul Bacigalupo. Niles will be sworn in Jan. 6, Drexel said, the same day Bacigalupo takes the Los Angeles Superior Court seat he won in the November general election.
Neither Wesson nor Niles could be reached for comment.
Niles, 69, retired from the Superior Court Oct. 4 after more than 20 years as a judge. His appointment as hearing judge is for a six-year term.
He will be one of three hearing judges in Los Angeles. He joins Richard Honn, who was recently appointed by the state Supreme Court and will be sworn in the same day as Niles, and holdover Robert Talcott, an appointee of Gov. Gray Davis.
There are also two hearing judges in San Francisco, one appointed by the Supreme Court and one by the Senate Rules Committee.
A native of St. Vincent in the British West Indies, Niles†came to the United States at age 16, living in New York with his merchant seaman father. He later joined the Air Force, where he began his college education and trained as a dental technician.
He was discharged in 1955, moving to Los Angeles, where his father had taken up residence. He obtained his undergraduate degree from UCLA, passed the certified public accountant examination, worked for the state Corporations Division, and joined Ernst & Ernst in 1963, becoming one of the first black accountants to work for a “Big Eight” firm in the city.
He earned his law degree from UCLA that same year, and later joined some friends to form the law firm of Worrel, Miller, Whitaker & Niles. He left the firm to start a solo practice, which he continued until 1982, when then-Gov. Jerry Brown named him to the Municipal Court.
He was active in community and political activities prior to becoming a judge, serving as chief executive officer and general counsel of the Kedren Community Health Center in Watts and running unsuccessfully for the state Assembly from an Inglewood-area district in 1970 and 1974. He also served as president of the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission prior to getting the judicial appointment.
His Municipal Court colleagues elected him assistant presiding judge for 1992 and 1993 and presiding judge for 1994 and 1995. As presiding judge he led the court into an administrative unification with the Los Angeles Superior Court—and then led it out after the Legislature failed to approve a constitutional amendment that would provide for full unification of all trial courts.
Niles’ position was ultimately vindicated when lawmakers and voters approved Proposition 220, which led to unification of Los Angeles County trial courts in January 2000.
Niles by then was a Superior Court judge, having run unopposed for that office in 1998. He had been sitting on the Superior Court on assignment for the three-year period before beginning his elective term.
He first tried to win a Superior Court seat in 1986, running against fellow Municipal Court Judge Leon Kaplan.
Kaplan spent $212,000 on the race and “bought the seat,” Niles once told the MetNews. Niles himself spent $117,000, making the contest the highest-spending judicial race in the county up to that point.
He was an announced candidate for the Superior Court in 1994, but dropped out, citing the potential burden of campaigning while serving as presiding judge.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company