Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Judges Pirosh, Soper to Retire in Next Few Months
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Superior Court, which already has 20 vacancies, will lose two more of its veteran judges in the next few months, the MetNews has learned.
Judge Michael Pirosh, who turns 60 on Jan. 26, said yesterday he will retire around that time, while Judge Elva Soper confirmed late Monday that she will be leaving the court before the end of the year.
Pirosh said he will step down after two decades on the bench in order to pursue other interests, including dog training.
“My feeling is that you only go around once,” Pirosh said.
“I’m not going to make any more out of my benefits,” he added. “I want to make the most of my life.”
Pirosh reached 20 years of service as a Los Angles County trial judge in May.
He has served as a Superior Court judge since his appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1982. Pirosh also served as a municipal court judge, appointed by Brown, for a year before being elevated.
The veteran bench officer, who currently sits in Eastlake juvenile court, said while he enjoyed his time at the court, he is looking forward to the new experience of retirement.
“I’ve never retired before,” Pirosh joked. “I’ve enjoyed my 20 and a half years here and I’ve done everything, but I’m looking forward to retirement.”
During his retirement, Pirosh said he plans to continue taking extension courses at UCLA and train his two Standard Schnauzers to be able to bring them to local hospitals and cheer up patients.
“It really gives kids and the elderly a real positive experience,” Pirosh said.
An avid dog lover, Pirosh has been elected to sit on the Board of Directors of the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, a position he will take over next year.
A traveler with extensive experience in Europe, Pirosh also said he wants to buy a RV and see what the nation’s national parks and Canada have to offer.
While Pirosh said he has no plans to sit on assignment for months at a time, he did say he has already spoken with Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Terry Friedman about sitting in for sick or vacationing judges when he returns from his travelling.
“That’s the great thing about being a judge,” Pirosh said. “You can keep your hands in it if you want.”
Pirosh served as a Municipal Court commissioner from 1980-81 after working as a Los Angeles deputy public defender for six years, where he was a trial deputy and supervising public defender.
He also practiced law privately in Los Angeles before joining the court.
Pirosh received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his law degree from the University of San Diego Law School.
Soper did not offer a specific retirement date, although a court source said he believed she was going to depart by next month.
A 19-year veteran of the Los Angeles County trial bench, Soper served as a Municipal Court judge from 1982 until she was elevated to the Superior Court when court unification took place in January 2000.
Before coming to Los Angeles, she was a judge of the Palo Alto-Mountain View Municipal Court in Santa Clara County, to which Brown appointed her in 1976. She had previously practiced law in San Jose with her then-husband, Robert Aguilar, later a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California.
She ran for a full term on the Palo Alto court in 1980 and lost, but was later appointed a juvenile court referee by the Los Angeles Superior Court. She held that office until she was appointed by Brown to the Los Angeles Municipal Court, and returned to a juvenile court assignment after unification.
Soper, who was unavailable for further comment on her retirement plans, received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Southern California.
Superior Court Presiding Judge James Bascue said he was sad to see the two experienced judges leave, especially at a time when the court is having to deal with such a high number of vacancies.
“We are sorry to be losing two veteran judges who have contributed significantly to the court over many years, especially at a very difficult time for the court,” Bascue said. “With so many vacancies, it is very difficult to operate the court. It’s hard not to think of things that way.”
While retired judges sitting on assignment do help ease the vacancy situation, Bascue said, the Superior Court is actually seeking to add even more judicial officers in the county on top of the 22 vacancies in order to accommodate the county’s large caseload.
“We would feel more comfortable with more judicial officers,” Bascue said.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company