Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Page 3


Justice Tricia A. Bigelow: A Distinguished Jurist Leaves the Bench


By Lance Ito


(The writer is a retired judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, serving on assignment. Tricia Bigelow today retires as the presiding justice of Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal, a post she has held since 2010. She previously served a year-and-a-half as an associate justice on that division. She was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1995 and to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1998. Fred Bennett, mentioned is the article, is not Fred R. Bennett III, who serves as court counsel, but Fred G. Bennett—Bigelow’s husband—who recently retired from Quinn Emanuel.)



oday a family’s cross generational contribution to our judicial system comes to a close with the retirement of Presiding Justice Tricia Bigelow from Division 8 of the Second Appellate District. Tricia Bigelow, Trish to her friends, is the daughter of the late Ross Bigelow who served on both the Los Cerritos Municipal Court and the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Ross was a scholar and prolific contributor to the cause of the education of the bench and the bar. In the early 1980’s his Evidence Objections Handbook was an essential for trial judges across California. One of the many trials Ross presided over was the retrial of Symbionese Liberation Army soldiers Russell Little and Joseph Remiro for the attempted murder of a police officer in connection with the assassination of Oakland School Superintendent Marcus Foster. That case was tried after a change of venue from Alameda County in what was then the single high security courtroom at the Criminal Courts Building, now the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. The trial lasted three months, including nineteen days of jury deliberations. Trish was in high school at the time and recalls chillingly the constant presence of heightened security measures for her dad and the family. Ross was a member of the Greatest Generation serving in the Navy during WWII.

Justice Bigelow’s parental judicial influences are apparent; however, over the years I suspect it was her mother Janet’s influences that resonated more for me, a certain simpatico that comes from both our moms being kindergarten teachers and those unique personality traits they inculcate and pass on to their children. Trish and I served together on the Ninth Floor of the Criminal Courts Building, now known as the Complex Criminal Trial Panel where long and complicated criminal matters requiring enhanced security measures are tried. Exactly where People v. Little & Remiro would have been tried had it existed at the time.


 e also worked together closely during her tenure as the vice dean and dean of the B.W. Witkin California Judicial College. For just over two decades, it was my privilege to teach the course on the effective use of spoken language interpreters, an important skill for trial judges in the most language diverse state in the country. Having already taken the course as a new judge, Trish sat through the class again as a seminar leader, as a regular instructor, as the vice dean and as the dean, always with a smile, and with notes of encouragement and suggestions for improvement. I am most grateful for her decision to maintain the course as part of the mandatory curriculum and to expand its time allotment.





Not surprisingly, Trish was awarded the Bernard S. Jefferson Award for distinguished service to judicial education by the California Judges Association, an award named after a giant in California legal education. Trish was also recognized by the Judicial Council of California for her dedication to the administration of justice with the Ronald M. George Award of Excellence.

On the day I retired from the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2015, a well worn copy of Sentencing California Crimes by Tricia Bigelow and Richard Couzens was still on my desk.


t is sad to note ominous factors facing all California state judges appointed after 1994 in the form of the many shortcomings of Judicial Retirement System II (“JRS II”), some of which were remedied by SB 184 and SB 656, overwhelmingly passed by both houses of our legislature but vetoed by Governors Brown and Newsom. Many JRS II judges like Trish may be surprised to learn there will come a point in their judicial career where their retirement benefits go into retrograde.

On a happier personal note Trish has literally found her knight in shining armor, Fred Bennett, Esq. who proposed on the beach astride a white stallion, dressed in a full knight’s costume straight out of Medieval Times. Better than a Bruno Mars “Marry You” flash mob. Fred showed up at our Halloween party in full Freddy Krueger/ Nightmare on Elm Street, so he has proven himself adept at costume selection.

Like her dad, Trish will likely join the upper echelon of the private adjudication industry; however, her departure from the bench is a loss to the public at large.


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