Thursday, December 26, 2002
Judges Rogers and Yates Granted Disability Retirement by CJP
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Pamela Rogers and Reginald Yates have been granted disability retirement by the Commission on Judicial Performance, officials said Tuesday.
Rogers has been on leave for 14 months with back problems. She and Yates, who has been seriously ill and away from the court for several months, will each receive a tax-free disability pension equal to 65 percent of a superior court judge’s salary, or about $90,000 annually at the current rate.
Rogers, who was elected to the old Antelope Municipal Court in 1994 and became a Superior Court judge through unification nearly three years ago, has had a stormy tenure on the bench.
She admitted to a dependence on prescription drugs, which led to a CJP disciplinary proceeding, but denied it affected her performance on the bench and said the problem was alleviated after she consulted specialists at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego and changed medications. She was openly criticized by lawyers who questioned her behavior and competency, and was admonished by the CJP for failing to decide cases on time.
Rogers is 49 years old. There is a provision in the law which allows the commission to appoint an independent physician to examine a judge no more than once every two years, if the judge is on disability retirement and is less than 65 years of age.
If, after the independent medical examination, the commission finds that a judge is able to serve, he or she must return to work on assignment or give up the retirement allowance.
Before her leave, Rogers heard misdemeanor cases and conducted felony preliminary hearings in Lancaster. Her courtroom was occupied periodically by temporarily assigned judges until November, when newly appointed Judge Raphael Ongkeko arrived.
Lancaster attorney R. Rex Parris, a leading political supporter of Rogers, told the Antelope Valley Press her retirement was “an excellent resolution of a difficult situation.” The lack of a continuous, fulltime judge had put a strain on the court and required transfer of some cases to other courthouses, North District Supervising Judge Steven D. Ogden, who was not available Tuesday, previously told the MetNews.
Rogers, a New Jersey native and a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and of Loyola Law School, was a deputy district attorney prior to her election to the bench. She won two hotly contested elections, defeating Superior Court Commissioner Victor Reichman in a 1994 runoff, then winning re-election by a large majority when challenged by Antelope Valley lawyers William Clark and Larry Layton two years ago.
Her husband, Superior Court Judge Randolph Rogers, filed for divorce Sept. 12 after 10 years of marriage. He asked that she be limited to supervised visitation with the couple’s two children, but withdrew the request without public explanation after an ex parte proceeding before Judge Roy Paul.
Yates, 62, was born in Chicago and served in the U.S. Army in Alaska before returning to his native city, where he worked for the U.S. Postal Service while attending Roosevelt University. After graduating in 1966, he came to Los Angeles, attending Southwestern University School of Law and working as a deputy probation officer.
He earned his degree from Southwestern in 1972 and left the probation department two years later to become a deputy district attorney. He prosecuted for 15 years before then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him to the Pomona Municipal Court in 1989.
He began hearing felony cases as an assigned Superior Court judge in 1996 and became a full-fledged member of the Superior Court through unification in January 2000.
The retirements of Yates and Rogers bring the number of vacancies on the court to 11, although two of those are seats to which new judges, elected in November, will be sworn in Jan. 6.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company