Ed Edelman Children's Court


Ed Edelman Childrens Court

201 Centre Plaza Drive,

Monterrey Park, CA 91754


The Ed Edelman's Childrens Court deals primarily with dependency court cases where children who have experienced neglect and or child abuse. The facility is named after former Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman. Supervisor Edeleman graduated from UCLA Law School and clerked for U.S. District Court Judge William Byrne, and served as staff counsel to the House Subcommitte on Labor under Congressman James Roosevelt and as special assistant to the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board under President Kennedy and President Johnson.

Edelman served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1965 until 1974 and served the next 20 years on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Edelman was a champion of social programs that helped people. When he retired, Edelman joined RAND as a senior fellow at the Santa Monica based public policy insitute and also took a job at JAMS (Judicial Arbitration & Mediation Services) to help resolve legal disputes. During his retirement years, Edelman helped create a $1.7 million pilot program in September 2006 known as the Santa Monica Homeless Community Court that gives homeless defendants a rehabilitation component to their sentence.

As a supervisor, Edelman helped resolve a potential nurses walkout and a MTA Strike. Among his other accomplishments were meeting with community leaders from City Terrace in East Los Angeles to address drug problems in the neighborhood.

Unlike most County Supervisors, Edelman had a open door policy to his constituents. Many politicians would have never allowed constituents with no financial influence to meet directly with them but rather have the matter handled by a field deputy. That was not the case with Supervisor Edelman. He met with poor constituents to address abandoned cars in East Los Angeles, potholes and drug problems in his district. He also personally came out to the Eastside in 1987 to help launch the Anti Drug Program with We Tip Founders Bill & Miriam Brownell in City Terrace, an unincorporated area of East Los Angeles along with the City Terrace Community Council, a community group led by former UNO President Gloria Chavez. Edelman always allowed his community leaders the opportunity to have access to meet personally with him.

During his term on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Edelman always had a hand in spearheading reform in a failed foster care system in Los Angeles County from inadequate and unsafe county housing to an inadequate juvenile court system for dependent children.

MacLaren Hall, which was opened in 1961, served as Los Angeles County's Emergency Shelter for abused and neglected children but was overcrowded and led by poorly trained staff. Many children were reportedly routinely abused by staff. Many of the abuses were worse than the abuse that brought them there in the first place. In reality, during that time period, Los Angeles County's Emergency Shelter was no different that most County Emergency Shelters in America where abuse was rampant and staff were inadequately trained and not qualified to deal with youth with mental health issues and special needs.

Nine years after Edelman retired, the Board of Supervisors led by Supervisor Gloria Molina ordered MacLaren Hall to close as lawsuits by children as well as the ACLU came pouring like heavy rain. Many of the lawsuits did not seek monetary damages but only reform. The facility closed in June 2003. Many of the juvenile records that documented the abuse at MacLaren Hall were reportedly either destroyed or lost. A study that cost the county of Los Angeles $355,531 found that (1) Children were staying at the Maclaren Hall for months and sometimes more than a year even though the county of Los Angeles is required to place the children in a appropriate facility within 30 days of their arrival, (2) Delinquent children with violent behavior were housed with dependency children, and (3) Staff members restrained children despite a policy that discourages restraining children and (4) Children were being injured or hurt at the facility including 11 children that have had their arms broken or have been slammed into the ground or furniture, (5) illegal routine strip searches of children were performed on children.

Edelman helped create the Department of Children and Family Services as a response to help improve the countys response time to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect as a means to promote safety for children. Edelman also helped create the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Community Youth Gang Services.

Besides helping create the Department of Childrens Services, Edelman knew that very young children were having to have their cases heard in very intimidating settings at the Downtown Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building at 210 West Temple Street or in rundown trailers at the Van Nuys Courthouses. As a result, a state of the art child sensative building was built and was opened in 1992 in Monterey Park. Supervisor Edelman enjoys classical music and plays the cello in his spare time.

Edelman was a champion of the poor, the hungry, the weak, and the abused. His commitment to social programs and his founding of specialized county departments such as the Department of Social Services led to the Childrens Court being deservedly named after him. Edelman is 84 years old in 2014.


Process of a Dependency Case

Investigation by Social Worker

Many dependency cases alleging neglect are often initiated by reports by individuals including third party witnesses, neighbors, family members or police. This then triggers a visit by a social worker.

Dependency cases alleging child abuse or child molestation are often the result of reports made by mandatory reporters such as doctors, psychologists, school teachers and police.

The social worker can often be very rude, demanding and bossy. In cases where there is allegations of neglect, the social worker will be doing a thorough investigation of each and every room, your refrigerator, whether the house is kept clean or not. This same social worker is attempting to determine whether the parent should agree to a voluntary case plan. Anything you say to the social worker can be used against you in dependency court as well as criminal court.

Many social workers will threaten removal of your child unless you speak with them concerning the allegations. Most social workers are willing to allow the child to be placed with a responsible relative with no criminal record. In cases involving allegations of child molestation, most social workers will agree to a plan to have the child living with a legal guardian living in a separate location from where the accused person lives. When dealing with social workers, it is generally a good idea to keep a journal and keep good notes.


What are some of the types of cases come before the Dependency Court?

300 (a) non-accidental serious physical home

300 (b) general neglect

300 (c) serious emotion

300 (d) sexual abuse

300 (e) child less than five with severe physical abuse

300 (g) no provision for support

300 (i) cruelty

300 (j) sibling abused.

Initial Detention Hearing

At the initial Detention Hearing, the Dependency Judge will make a determination whether the child should be detained. The Court will determine where the child will stay, whether visitation is allowed and whether services will be provided. The parent has a right to cross examine the preparer of the report and the witnesses whose statements are contained in that report.

The court will consider whether "reasonable efforts" have been made by the social worker to "prevent or eliminate the need for removal". The reasonable efforts include case management, counseling, emergency shelter care, emergency in home caretakers, out of home respoite care, teaching, and demonstrating homemakers, parenting training, transportation, and any other child welfare services authoirzed by the State. If the child is detained the court shall determine and report on relatives available. As an atlernative, the court may consider emergency shelter or foster home if releative placement is not possible.

In other words, the dependency court will decide temporary custody of the child while the case is further investigated. The Ed Edelman Children's Court Judge will generally order visitation and order you to start some parenting program and/ or specialized counseling program. Unless there is a stipulated agreement to the charge or charges in the petition on the first court date, the court will set a further court date.

Typically the dependency lawyer will deny all allegations and request a date for adjudication. At this detention hearing, you should also have a plan A, plan B, and plan C. Generally speaking, you should have a first choice for placement, a second choice for placement and a third choice for placement. Thus for example, your lawyer can suggest that your child be placed with an adult family member or grand parents, a friend, a brother in law, sister in law etc. family member. Use common sense, don't recommend someone who just got out of prison as a recommended placement. The Social Worker will make a big deal about the persons prior criminal history. While the person may be rehabilitated and law abiding, when you read the social workers report, they generally paint a poor picture of the person. Recommend someone who is responsible, has a clean record, and who has the ability to provide adequate supervision of the child. Once your dependency attorney suggests a placement with a relative, the dependency lawyer will request a PRI (Pretrial Release Investigation) and a follow up court hearing will be set to determine if the placement is appropriate. This hearing is generally set in about two weeks.

The Dependency Court may also set a Pretrial Conference (PRC) , and a Receipt of Report (ROR) hearing date to receive the disposition report. If your dependency lawyer believes that this case can resolve without trial, the parties can also request that the matter be referred to mediation.

If you want to regain custody of your child, it is critical that you promptly start your court ordered program and commence visitation. The types of programs the court may order you to attend be based on the alleged facts of your case. Typical programs may include anger management, drug counseling, drug testing, alcohol classes, parenting classes and general counseling. If you fail to attend your program on a consistent basis, this will be noted by the social worker and be brought to the courts attention. Unexcused absences of your program may affect your case. Similarly, if you fail to visit your child on all your scheduled visits, this will be used against you as well. Therfore, take your program and visitation seriously. This will show you are a responsible parent or legal guardian.

How often can a parent visit his or her child if the child is detained?

If the child is detained, "Visitation shall be as frequent as possible, consistent with the well being of the child." Parent child and sibbling visits are encouraged. Therefore, under most circumstances, the court will encourage frequent visits by parents. In fact, if the court authorizes parents visits, and if the parent does not actually visit the child, this information is conveyed to the court and could delay reunification.

Are services provided & stipulated to immediately?

Whenever a court orders a child detained, the court shall order services to be provided as soon as possible to reunify the child and his or her family. Sometimes, the County Counsel and the Dependency Lawyer will stipulate to certain services being ordered immediately.

Will Parenting classes help reunify me with my child?

Yes. Parenting classes are often services that are either ordered by the court or stipulated by the parties anyway so its a good idea get a jump start by showing your commitment toward reunification.

Should I offer relatives as possible placement?

Yes. It is always easier on the child to stay with a relative than with a complete stranger if possible. Its less traumatic for the child if the child is placed with a relative that he or she is familiar with. Also, family members, such as grandparents or aunts & uncles, will generally be in a better position to give more attention to the child than a county foster home where the foster parent may have to split their attention with other foster children. However, to the credit of many foster parents, there are many that are dedicated and provide important food and shelter for the child.

What is a pretrial resolution conference hearing?

This is generally the court date between the initial court date and the trial date if necessary. This is often the second court date that is set whereby the parties try to resolve the case.

Jurisdiction Hearing / Adjudication

The main issues at the jurisdiction hearing is to address is the petition true. At this hearing, the parent has three options. Admit the matter, deny the matter or submit the matter on the basis of the social worker's report alone.

Disposition Hearing

Once the dependency juvenile court makes a finding that the child is a 300 child, the dependency court needs to address what services are to be provided to reunite the family and what other orders are needed for the safety, protection, and well being of the child.

Six Month Review

The primary issue at the six month review is for the court to determine whether it is appropriate for the child to return home. If the child is not returned home and is under three years of age, the court addresses whether there is a substantial probability that the child could be returned home if the parent were given up to another six months of services or whether reasonable services have not been provided. At this proceeding the court will look at the efforts or progress or both of the parent. In other words, if the parent is making progress with court order treatment, this will look favorably.

The court will read the social worker report and it will mention what progress you have made with your court ordered program. It will also note your frequency of visitations with your child. If you have been diligent with attending each and every class and have visited your child each every opportunity, this will look very favorable for you. The Dependency Court will give great weight and consideration based on your progress. The Court may order that the child be returned home or visitations may become more liberal. If the child is not returned home, your next court date will likely be at the next six month review hearing. It is very easy to get agitated with an adverse ruling against you. Don't say things like, if the judge wants to have my kids, he can have them. Don't yell at the judge or the social worker in the court room. Don't come to court under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Dress appropriately. Don't dress like you are going to the beach. For men, please avoid Tshirts and shorts. For women, please avoid short skirts and revealing clothes. Dress conservatively and as if you are going to a job interview. Do everything you can to make a favorable impression to the court.

Twelve Month Review

At the twelve month review hearing date, commonly known as the Permanency Hearing, the dependency court will address whether the child can return home. If the child is not returned home and is under the age of three, the issue is whether reasonable services have been provided. If the child is not returned home and is over the age of three, the dependency court addresses whether there is a substantial probability that the child could be returned home if give up to six month of services or whether reasonable services have been provided. If the child is not returned home, and services are not to continue, should the dependency court order long term foster care at this moment.

Eighteen Month Review

At the eighteenth month review hearing date, commonly called a Permanency Review Hearing, the dependency courts primary issue is to determine whether it is appropriate to return the child home, and if the child is not returned home, to determine whether reasonable servides have been provided. In addition, if the child is not returned home, the court continues to address whether the court should now order long term foster care. At this eighteenth month review Permanency Review Hearing, the Court shall return the child unless there is a substantial risk of detriment. The social worker bears the burden of proof to show that the parents have not complied with court order treatment such as parenting classes, alcohol classes, anger management etc. If the child is not returned home at the eighteenth month review hearing, the court will look at the possibility of long term foster care in cases in which the child is not a proper subject for adoption and no one is willing to accept legal guardianship.

Family Maintenance Review Hearing

At the family maintenance review hearing, the primary issue is whether continued court supervision is necessary. The court shall terminate its jurisdiction unless the social worker established by a preponderance of evidence that conditions still exist which would justify initial assumption of jurisdiction under section 300, or that those conditions are likely to exists if supervision is withdrawn.

Permanency Planning Hearing

At the Selection and Implementation Hearing, the primary issue is what is appropriate permanent plan for the child. The Court has these options: (1) Adoption, (2) Guardianship, or (3) Long Term foster care.

The court can terminate parental rights based on certain serious allegations, based on the fact that the parent has not visited the child in six months, or has been convicted of certain felonies in criminal courts. A felony child molestation conviction under California Penal Code Section 288 (a), 288.5, 288 (b), 288.7 or felony child abuse under penal code section 273(a), with great bodily injury for example, will likely lead to a termination of parental rights. There are other California Penal Code section convictions that may also lead to termination of parental rights. The issue there is whether the felony conviction indicates parental unfitness

There are reasons not to terminate parental rights including

(1) A demonstration that the parents or guardians have had regular visits and the child would benefit from the continuing relationship.

(2) The child 12 years of age or older objects to termination of parental rights.

(3) The child is placed in a residential treatment facility, adoption is unlikely or undesirable, and continuation of parental rights will not prevent finding the child a permanent family placement if the parents cannot resume custody when residential care is no longer needed.

(4) The child is living with a relative or foster parent who is unable or unwilling to adopt the child because of exceptional circumstances that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility. There would be substantial interference with a child's sibling relationship.

Juvenile Court Judges at the Ed Edelman Children's Court

Supervising Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash

Judge Nash is a graduate of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, UCLA and Loyola University School of Law. He previously worked as a California deputy attorney general from 1974 to 1985. He was one of the prosecutors in the Hillside Strangler trial in 1981-83. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1985 by Governor George Deukmejian and was elevated to the Superior Court in 1990 by Deukmejian . He served as a juvenile court judge since 1990 and supervises both delinquency and dependency courts. He is a registered Republican and is 66 years old in 2014. Judge Nash has announced in January 2014 that he will not run for re-election.

Juvenile Court Commissioner Marilyn H. Mackel, Dept 402

Commissioner Mackel previously was a civil litigator in Orange County before she became a bench officer. She is a graduate of Bennett College, in Greensboro, N.C. She previously worked as a social worker involving foster home cases in New York City. She went on to work as a probation officer. She received her master’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and her law degree is from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

After graduation, she taught criminal justice at the University of the District of Columbia and had her own practice in the nation’s capital. She was a as needed referee in 1991 and became a full time referee in 1995. She became a commmissioner in 2002.

Juvenile Court Commissioner Debra L. Losnick, Dept 403

Commissioner Losnick graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Politcal Science in 1983 and her law degree from Southernwestern Univiersity School of Law in 1985. She worked from 1985 to 1986 with a tax litigation firm Gunther, Knox & Elliott and as a Deputy County Counsel from 1986 to 1990. From 1990 to 1996 she was appointed as a Juvenile Court Referee where she worked primarily in dependency court.

In 1996, she was appointed Commissioner. 2010 marks 25 years of working in the dependency court system in Los Angeles County. She is married to Juvenile Delinquency Commissioner Robert J. Totten who is assigned to the Eastlake Juvenile Court.

Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Zeke Zeidler, Dept 404

Judge Zeidler graduated from Cal State Univesity Northridge and from Loyola University School of Law in 1991. From 1992 to 1998 he worked for the Dependency Court Legal Services. He worked as a referee from 1991. He is a former Redondo Beach School board member where he served for five years and previous to that he was a ACLU law clerk.

He is well known gay activist. His longtime domestic partner is attorney Jay Kohorn, the assistant director of the California Appellate Project. In 2002, he was recognized by the Juvenile Courts Bar Association as the 2002 Outstanding Juvenile Court Judicial Officer.

Juvenile Court Judge Emily A. Stevens, Dept 405

Judge Stevens graduated from Pitzer College in Claremeont in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in History in 1971 and a M.B.A. degree from UCLA Graaduate School of Management in 1976. She received her law degree from UCLA School of law in 1975. She was a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney from 1976 to 1986 and was elevated to Assistant City Attorney from 1986 to 1987. She was appointed Judge to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by Governor George Deukmejian in 1987 and three years later in 1990, Deukmejian appointed her to the Los Angeles Supeior Court.

Juvenile Court Referee Valerie Skeba, Dept 406

Referee Valerie Skeba graduated from Loyola University School of Law in 1988. She was as a Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender from 1988 to 1990. She then worked for the Dependency Court Legal Services as a Staff Attorney from 1990 to 1996. She was a sole practitioner from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to the present, she has worked as a Los Angeles County Superior Court Referee. She is 50 years old in 2010. Prior to working in the legal profession Referee Valerie Skeba worked in the medical profession as a Registered Nurse.

Juvenile Court Judge Margueritte Downing, Dept 407

Judge Downing previously worked as a deputy public defender for 18 years, a position she has held since 1989. In 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her as a Los Angees Superior Court Judge. While with the Los Angeles County Public defenders office, she served as the supervising attorney in the juvenile unit.

She also worked in the training division helping put out training memos and helping organize MCLE Legal Seminars for public defenders in her office. She received her law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. She is 51 years of age in 2010.

The California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George recently appointed Judge Downing to serve on the Commission on Impartial Courts. She was also recently appointed to serve one term on the Commision on Youth at Risk. As a lawyer, she received "Attorney of the Year" from the John M. Langston Bar Association and from the California Association of Black Lawyers. She is very active in speaking on juvenile court issues in other countries.

Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Saito, Dept. 405

Timothy Saito, 47, is the newest Judge to the Ed Edelman Dependency Juvenile Court. He served as a deputy city attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office since 2000. He served the United States District Court, Central District of Calfiornia as a research attorney and judicial law clerk from 1994 to 2000. He clerked for Federal Judge Laughlin E. Waters while he attended law school and worked for Federal Judge David Williams upon passing the bar as a research attorney. Saito earned his law degree from Glendale University College of Law nad a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UCLA. Judge Saito is a registered Republican. Saito's father was the first Japanese American to serve as Chief Administrator for the Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Congratulations to Referee Randolph Hammock for his winning election to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge in 2010.

Randolph Hammock defeated Attorney Mark Ameli in the November 2, 2010 election as follows:

Ramdy Hammock 671, 480 votes 52.5%

Mark Ameli 607,456 votes 47.5%

Referee Hammock won election to the Los Angeles Superior Court by beating his opponent Mark Ameli in the November 2, 2010 election. Hammock was outspent by Ameli by a margin of 3 - 1 but won with 671,480 votes with 52.5% of the vote. Attorney Mark Ameli garnered 607,456 votes with 47.5% of the vote.

This was Hammock' s second bid to become a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. He graduated from San Diego State University in1980 graduating Magna Cum Laude, and from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1983. He worked as a insurance defense lawyer for the law offices of Stephen Dimeff from 1984 to 1985. He was a partner with the law firm of Chelski, Hammock & Hedges in Los Angeles for the next 10 years from 1985 to 1995. He worked for the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester doing Consumer Law and Civil Rights Litigation from 1996 to 2008. He has been working as a dependency referee from 2007 to the present.

He is licensed in Calfornia, Indiana, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Nevada, and Tennessee. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. His past volunteer work includes working as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the Dependency Court and on behalf of the National Coalition of Motorcyclist. Both of his parents were hearing impaired. As a result, Referee Hammock is fluent in sign language.

Hammock finished the primary election in first place held June 2010 and received 21.75 % of the vote and is facing a run off against the second Attorney Mark Ameli who received 14.59% of the vote. The face each other in the November 2010 general elections.

Generally prosecutors with the ballot designation "deputy DA or gang prosecutors" do fairly well. In fact, statistically, attorneys, court referees, and court commissioners do not fair as well as a single opponent with a ballot designation such as criminal prosecutor, or deputy district attorney.

However, in this case, three prosecutors entered the race and appeared to have split the vote allowing for non prosecutors to have a winning chance. The fall election should be interesting as Attorney Mark Ameli who has the endorsement of Sheriff Lee Baca, is pouring in tens of thousands of dollars as he seeks to become the first Iranian Judge.

On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Ameli filed a request to have his ballot designation to be "Superior Court Litigator." His opponent said he will challenge the ballot designation. Under Elections Code section 13107, a candidate is barred any designation that would mislead the voter. The ballot wording should be a principal profession, vocation or occupation at present or within the preceding year. The elections code section 13313 allows a challenge by way of a writ of mandate or injunction.

The major factor that influenced the November 2010 elections was the ballot designations. Referee Hammock has been successful in blocking Mark Ameli from changing his ballot designation from " litigator, arbitrator, mediator" to "superior court litigator."

Since being rebuked by the County Registrars Office after an objection by Hammock, Ameli's lawyers filed a writ on August 17, 2010 to challenge the county registrars refusal to allow Ameli to have the ballot designation superior court litigator. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe, ruled on September 2, 2010 that Ameli cannot be designaed as a "Superior Court Litigator." Ameli was then listed as "Litigator/Mediator/Arbitrator."

Judge Yaffe's decision may have been the deciding factor in pushing momentum to Hammock. In addition to the ballot designation, the last names of the candidates may have also influenced voters preference. Ameli outspent Hammock with a barrage of slate mailers and threw everything he had into the race including the kitchen sink. Ameli's financial wealth made him a formidable Meg Whitman type stealth candidate. However, like the real Whitman, money was not by itself enough to pull off a hotly contested election.

Clearly the ballot designation of "litigator, arbitrator, mediator," vs. "Superior Court Litigator" had an impact on Los Angeles County voters. Neither are particularly compelling other than the fact that the words "superior court" is contained in "Superior Court Litigator" which arguably gives the impression one is related to the court system.

Ameli has reportedly spent more than $500,000.00 on his campaign while Hammock reportedly has spent $180,000.00 with $108,000.00 cash still on hand. Their combined spending is expected to exceed $800,000.00 by the November 2, 2010 election. We congratulate Randy Hammock for his successful win to become a Los Angeles Superior Court. It is unclear whether Judge Nash will have Hammock return to the Dependency Court or whether he will be assigned elsewhere. (Judge Hammock is currently assigned to the East Los Angeles Court and hears misdemeanor adult cases.)


Juvenile Court Referee Irwin Garfinkel, Dept 406

Referee Garfikle received his Bachelors Degree from UCLA and his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and was admitted to Bar in 1959. He has been a referee since 1983.


Juvenile Court Judge David R. Fields, Dept 408

Judge Fields graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts degree and from the University of California Berkeley (Boat Hall School). He worked as an associate from Bautzer, Kuchel and Silbert from 1988 to 1991 and as an associate for Katten, Muchin and Rosenman in 1991.

He then went to work as a federal prosecutor as an assistant United States Attorney for the US. Department of Justice from 1991 to 2001. He served as senior counsel for Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld from 2002 to 2008. In 2008, he was employed at the Law Offices of James Spertus in 2008 and in 2009 he became a partner with the law office of Brown White and Newhouse. He 2010, Fields was appointed Judge by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is 47 in 2010.

Juvenile Court Referee Terry Truong, Dept 409

Truong attended the University of California, Irvine and from UCLA Law School in 1993. Truong became a referee in 2007. Truong was a Law Clerk for the National Center Youth Law in 1991.


Superior Court Commissioner Stephen C. Marpet, Dept 410

Commissioner Marpet graduated from UC Berkeley in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business and from Hastings College of the Law in 1966. He worked as a Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender from 1967 to 1969. He was a partner with the law firm of Caidin, Kalman, Sampson & Marpet in Beverly Hills from 1969 to 1989 and the law firm of Caidin, Kalman & Marpet from 1989 to 1993. He was a sole practitioner in Santa Monica from 1993 to 2003. In 2001, he was appointed as a Referee by the Los Angeles Superior Court and appointed Commissioner five years later in 2006.

Juvenile Court Referee Robert Stevenson, Dept 411

Robert Stevenson works for the office of the County Counsel in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of San Fernando Valley College of Law, and California State University. He was admitted to the bar in 1974.


Juvenile Court Commissioner Stanley Genser , Dept 412

Commissioner Genser graduated for UC Berkeley and from UCLA School of Law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1968.


Juvenile Court Referee Sherri Sobel, Dept 413

Referee Sobel graduated from Temple University and from Western State University in San Diego. She was a school teacher before going to law school. She spent four years as a Deputy Alternate Public Defender and one year as a special education mediator for the state prior to becoming a Los Angeles Superior Court Referee.

She has become a leading authority on Special Education and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

She has written written portions of the Continuing Education of the Bar Publication for Judges. Referee Sobel is among the most well respected Juvenile Court Referees in California. In 2007, she became the only referee to receive the Juvenile Court Judge of the Year Award by a statewide conference, the Juvene Court Judges of California.


Juvenile Court Referee Marilyn Kading Martinez, Dept 414

Referee Martinez graduated for the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelors Degree and from Western State University School of Law in 1979. She was appointed Los Angeles Superior Court Referee in 1990.


Juvenile Court Judge James K. Hahn, Dept 415

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn comes from a family of political influence.

His father was Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. His sister is Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Judge Hahn graduated from Pepperdine University magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in English and a minor in Journalism in 1972. He graduated from Pepperdine University in 1975.

He was elected Los Angeles City Controller in 1981 and Los Angeles City Attorney in 1985 and served in that capacity until 2001 when he was elected Mayor of the City of Los Angeles.

Prior to becoming Mayor, James Hahn was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party and was often mentioned as a future candidate for Governor. He was very charismatic during his early years of political office but years of incumbency with out any serious challenger affected his ability to be visible in the community and affected his ability to develop into a proflic speaker. His fortunes as Mayor began to crumble when he fired a popular LAPD Chief Bernard Parks.

Antonio Villaraigosa, a charismatic speaker challenged Hahn for the Mayor's job. Villaraigosa had been engaged in a series of hard fought battles his entire career. His first major battle began when he ran for the California State Assembly taking on Tom Mabie, the hand picked candidate of the Assembly Member Richard Polanco, who was then the Chair of the Hispanic Caucus in the California State Legislature. Villaraigosa went on to be Speaker of the Assembly and then won a position on the Los Angeles City Council.

Besides Villaraigosa, Hahn had to square off against other well known and heavily financed challengers including former Speaker Bob Hertzberg, and State Senator Richard Alarcon. Former LAPD Chief and then City Councilman Bernard Parks also entered the race as payback for his firing. This diluted the African American vote away from Hahn. Parks entry into the Mayors Race may have been enough for the Mayor to lose significant support in the African American Community. Despite his inability to win a second term, Hahn was an effective City Controller, City Attorney and Mayor of Los Angeles.

Three years after leaving political office, he was appointed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge in 2008 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger. Hahn now handles child abuse and child neglect cases at the Edmund Edelman Court.

Juvenile Court Judge Amy Pellman, Dept 415

Judge Pellman was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008. At that time she had been working as commissioner for the Los Angeles Superior Court since 2005. Prior to becoming a Superior Court Commissioner, she served as legal director the the Alliance for Childrens Right from 2000 to 2005. She worked as a legal director for The Alliance for Children's Rights from 2000 to 2005 and worked as a senior and appellate attorney for Dependency Court Legal Service, Incorporated from 1993 to 2000.

In 1993, Pellman worked as a contract attorney for Selvin & Weiner and, from 1992 to 1993, she was an associate at Hedges & Caldwell. Pellman worked as an associate in New York at the Law Offices of Mark Scherzer from 1990 to 1992. Pellman earned a Juris Doctorate degree from City University of New York Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College.

Judge Pellman received the Child Advocacy Law Award in 2003 from the American Bar Association. Judge Pellman is a contributor to a treatise on Juvenile Dependency Law, “California Juvenile Dependency Practice,” published by the CEB (California Educational Bar). She teaches “Children and the Law” at Southwestern University Law School where she was awarded Adjunct Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005.

Pellman was a civil litigator for three years, and served as a federal clerk for the Second Circuit of New York. Pellman also served as the Manhattan Representative to New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo. She is licensed to practice law in both California and New York, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles County Dispute Resolution Services and Legal Advocates for Permanent Parenting. Pellman is 50 years of age in 2011. She is a registered democrat. She replaced Superior Court Judge James Hahn.


Juvenile Court Referee Donna Levin, Dept 416

Levin graduated with a Bachelors Degree from UCLA and with her law degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1988. She was appointed Los Angeles County Superior Court Referee in 1996.


Juvenile Court Commissioner Anthony Trendacosta, Dept 417

Trendacosta graduated from California State University, Northridge and from University of LaVerne College of Law in 1975. He worked for 11 years doing civil litigation at the law firm of Rose, Klein & Marias. He worked as a juvenile dependency lawyer for three years and went on to work as general counsel of the Santa Monica Rent Control Board. He was a substitute Referee in 1988 and became a full time referee in 1999. He was elevated to Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner in 2005. He is 59 years of age in 2010.


Juvenile Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis, Dept 418.

Commissioner Lewis is a graduated from Norte Dame Academy in West Los Angeles in 1982. She then went to Loyola Marymount University where she majored in business. From there she went to UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall) Law School where she graduated in 1990. She served as a staff attorney for Auxiliary Legal Services from 1991 to 1997. While working for the Auxiliary Legal Services she represented the County Counsels Office as legal counsel for the County including the department of childrens services. She served as a Juvenile Court referee for 11 years from 1997 to 2008 before being appointed commissioner by the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1998. She received the 2010 Juvenile Court Judge of the Year award at a Dinner in San Diego for Juvenile Court Judges at the Center for Familes, Children & the Courts' annual Beyond the Bench Conference. Her entire 19 year career has been working in the dependency court system as attorney, referee and commissioner. As a result, she has become an expert in the field of dependency law. More importantly, she is considered the female version of Tony Robbins because of her exceptional ability to motivate foster children to rise above the hardships they have gone thru. She is married with two children. She is 45 years of age in 2010.


Judge Deborah B. Andrews, Dept 419

Judge Andrews graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a Bachelors Degree in English in 1971 and with a Masters Degree in 1976. She graduated from Whittier College School of Law in 1982. She was a partner with her husband at the law firm of Andrews & Andrews from 1982 to 1985. She went to work for Cotkin, Colins & Franscell from 1985 to 1993.

She worked as a Adminstrative Law Judge for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals where she served from 1993 to 1994. In 1994, she won election to the Long Beach Municipal Court in 1994. Judge Andrews is married to Judge Bradford Andrews who recently retired. She is a member of the Long Beach Bar Association, Women Lawyers of Long Beach, and the California Judges Association.

She spent many years working in the domestic violence courtroom at the Long Beach courthouse where she was personally interested in the progress of all defendants that appeared before her. She felt it was always important to know what the defendants learned in class to help her monitor the effectiveness of the various court ordered programs. She is well respected and very courteous to all parties appearing before her. Judge Andrews was recently rotated to Juvenile Delinquency Court at the Long Beach Juvenile Court. Judge Rudolph Diaz now takes over court room in Dept 419 at the Ed Edelman Court.

Judge Rudolph Diaz, Dept 419

Judge Rudolph A. Diaz comes to the Dependency Court with extensive judicial experience. He previously handled Family Law cases at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles. Prior to working in the family law court, he was the supervising judge of the Eastlake Juvenile Court.

He helped found the Juvenile Drug Court Program at Eastlake. Judge Diaz also served at the Rio Hondo Superior Court in El Monte where he also help run the Drug Court there. Judge Diaz is also chairman of the Los Angeles County Oversight Committee on Drug Courts and serves on the Los Angeles County Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Commission. He is a founding member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and was the first Latino to serve as president of the California Judges Association. He was also recognized during Hispanic Hertigage Month in March 2009 by PBS.

Judge Margaret S. Henry, Dept 420

Judge Henry graduated from Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1970. She graduated with her law degree from Ohio State University College of Law in 1972. She served as a Ohio Assistant Attorney General from 1972 to 1974. She worked as a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney from 1974 to 1979.

She worked as In House Counsel for Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, from 1979 to 1984. She was a partner with a Century City Employent Litigation law firm of Rosner, Owens, Nunziato & Henry in Los Angeles from 1984 to 1992. She was a partner with the law firm of Henry & Tenner in Los Angles from 1992 to 1996. She was a sole practitioner in Santa Monica from 1996 to 2001 handling plaintiffs cases in Employment Litigation.

She fought many of the biggest corporations who were represented by the biggest employment defense law firms and despite what seemed like a mismatch, she beat them to the ground repeatedly including landing a Mike Tyson type of knock out punch that won her client a $11 million dollar verdict involving a race discrimination case.

Even though she ran a financially successful law practice, she devoted hundreds of hours of probono work for prominent nonprofit groups including the California Women's Law Center and Public Counsel.

Her other community involvement included working with the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation, LA 2000, and Council Trustee for LEARN. She took a substantial pay cut to become a judge. Judge Margaret S. Henry currently handles adoptions.


Judge John Henning, Dept 421

Judge Henning graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Adminstration in 1961 and from the prestigious University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1964. From 1966 to 1969, he worked as a Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender and from 1969 to 1980 he was a sole practitioner in a general practice in Los Angeles.

He was appointed Commissioner in 1980 and served in that posistion up until Governror Brown Jr. appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1982. He was elevated to the Superior Curt by Governor Brown Jr the following year in 1983. Judge Henning handles many of the adoptions by family, foster parents and surrogacy adoptions. He is a registered Democrat. He is 72 years old in 2010.

Child Abuse cases backlogged

The Los Angeles Times reported in November 2010 that LA County is behind in its child abuse investigations and that 4 in 10 cases have not been properly investigated within the mandated time constraints. More than 10,000 children are impacted. The SEIU Local 721 that represents the County Social workers stated that the backlog was partly the result of out of control policy machine. Among the department's 370 procedural guides, about 140 have been created or revised in the last year. The main procedural guide for child abuse investigations have changed 39 times.


Foster Care Bill AB 12

AB 12 would enable the state of California to collect federal dollars dedicated to helping foster children. It has been passed by the California Legislature and is now awaiting Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature.

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (J.R. 6893/ P.L. 110-351) will help hundreds of thousands of children and youth in foster care by promoting permanent families for them through relative guardianship and adoption and improving education and health care. In additional, it will extend federal suport for youth to age 21.

Under exisitng federal law under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing adoptions act, American Indian children receive important federal protections and support. In addition, it gives notice to relatives anytime a child is removed from parents and placed in foster care. This is important because all to often relatives are kept in the dark when a child has been removed from the house of a family member. It allows these relatives to be able to help keep the child from being placed with nonfamily members. It helps children in foster care leave care to live permanenetly with grand parents and other relatives when they cannot return home or be adopted. It also eliminates the red tape to help children be placed with relatives. It allows sates to be able to waive non safety related licensing standard on a case by case basis and requies the Department of Health and Human Servies to report to Congress on the use of licensing waives. It provides incentives for familes to adopt older children and children with disablilities. This is important because older foster children and children with special needs are often considered the least desirable for prospective adopting families. This will help give these children the opportunity to find a loving and supportive family.

Under current law, about 5,000 foster kids are thrown on the streets as soon as they turn 18, regardless of whether or not they have jobs, are in school or have a place to stay.

The two main features of AB 12 are as follows:

First, AB 12 would also allow transitional housing for foster kids from the age of 18 until the age or 21 thus allowing foster kids the opportunity to attend college and obtain employment. Presently it has been estimated that 25% of the youth become homeless upon turning 18. These children deserve the opportunity to succeed.

Second, AB 12 would also provide federal funding for Relative Caregivers. In 2001, California established the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) to ensure that relatives who take legal guardianship of a child from the foster care system receive the same financial funding as non-family members. AB 12 will build on this support by drawing on new federal dollars to operate what is currently an entirely state funded program. Doing so will save California an estimated $70 million per year.

The California Assembly approved AB 12 by a vote of 73-2 and the Senate by a vote of 27-9.

We support AB 12 for all the above reasons and urge the governor to do the same. If you would like to lend a hand in helping get this important peice of legislaiton passed contact the California Fostering Connections John Burton Foundation which is serving as the point person to help this passed into law.( Note: We thank all those who supported AB 12 which was signed into law by the Governor! )



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Our office does not handle juvenile dependency cases. When searching for a private dependency attorney we recommend you research a minimum of three attorneys, read their experience, client reviews, and call them for a consultation.




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NOTE: The juvenile crime, juvenile defense, juvenile criminal defense, juvenile rights, juvenile tried as an adult, criminal defense, serious felony or other legal defense information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. The web site of the Law Offices of George Kita has been designed to provide educational information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. His practice is limited to Southern California Courts. There is no express or implied intent to solicit business from outside of California. Nothing herein is intended to constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and outcomes will vary depending on the unique facts and legal issues of your case.