tested in the bitter crucible of the (1998)
shutdown, when almost all the day-to-day operations shrank to almost
invisible levels," he said. "It remained viable despite the judges
serving on terribly modest pay with next to no staff. I think it had
amazing success before, during and after that time."
Sworn in Nov. 1, Stovitz will be joined Dec. 11
by Patrice E. McElroy, a San Francisco sole practitioner, and Stanford
E. Reichert, a research attorney for the San Bernardino Superior
Court. Each will serve as a hearing judge, McElroy in San Francisco
and Reichert in Los Angeles.
McElroy, 48, said her job handling juvenile
delinquency and juvenile dependency matters began to overwhelm her
life and it was time for a change. "It was a 24-7 job and I was
starting to lose my boundaries in terms of clients," she said. "I
wanted something where I could serve the public and make some kind of
contribution toward preserving the integrity of the bar and the
worked on a peer review panel for a local lawyer referral service,
investigating complaints about the attorney members and holding
hearings, an experience she hopes will give her a leg up in her new
Reichert, 49, said he views the judgeship as an
opportunity to use the skills developed over the course of his career
as a civil litigator and research attorney, which has included both
trial work and drafting memoranda for judges. "It's going to be
challenging to learn a new area of the law and to make carefully
reasoned decisions," he said.
But he believes a 23-year career that has
included sole practice, partnership in a Pasadena firm and government
work has prepared him well.
counsel who represent attorneys facing discipline said they were
pleased with the appointments, particularly the elevation of Stovitz
to presiding judge. "I have the highest personal and professional
regard for him," said Ellen Peck, herself a former bar court hearing
judge. "He's an excellent choice and will make a wonderful leader
for the re-view department and the court itself."
Some lawyers expressed concern about what they
view as a high turn-over rate on the court, which is considered to
have a long learning curve. "This is a very dense, complicated and
sophisticated area of the law," said Los Angeles defense attorney
"The bottom line is there's at least a
three-year learning curve, so if appointees are transitioned every
five years, then there's two and a half to three years where the
breadth of knowledge is not exactly what you would hope it to be."
called the turnover issue "a legitimate concern" and said he and
other veterans on the court will work hard to help the new judges and
to hone the court's comprehensive training program in order to
reduce the learning curve.
Despite the concern, he said fairness to
respondents "in no way" has been affected. "Every appointment of
a new judge has seemed to me to be eminently fair," he said.