Newspaper Archive of
Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
March 30, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
PAGE 8     (8 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 8     (8 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
March 30, 2000

Newspaper Archive of Beverly Hills Weekly produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

!ii  .... WHERE GOES THE JUDGE? With a recent judicial resignation, who's fighting for control of the Beverly Hills Courthouse? By Shirin Danielpour and Chi Kuang Hwang "\\; WITH the unification of the municipal courts, presiding Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez has been reorganiz- ing courtrooms throughout Los Angeles. Beverly Hills, in particular will be undergoing tremendous change in the months to come. "The Beverly Hills court has not performed well when you compare it to the county," Judge Chavez said. But not to worry- he says that the new system is beneficial to Beverly Hills and the community at large. "There won't be 24 ways of dealing with things. Now there's one Ereidingtudge," Judge Chavez said. "It will ultimately bring great sawngs to the public." Court officials report that the transition is going well under the new system. "We've virtually received no feedback, good or bad but we think things are going very smoothly," one court official said. While things may seem calm on the county level, Judge Judy Stein's early resignation has stirred much controversy in the com- munity. Stein was supposed to finish out the balance of her term, which would've ended in December. Instead, she abruptly resigned last week. Rich Stone, who was elected to Stein's seat earlier this month may not be taking her seat. Under normal circumstances the gov- ernor would have appointed Stone to fill Stein's judicial slot imme- diately. With the consolidation of the courts, however, Judge Chavez now has the jurisdiction of assignments. While many still gossip about the maintenance of the Beverly Hills court, Judge Chavez is assured that his new appointment of Judge Linda Lefkowitz to Stein's seat will only benefit the community. "Linda is one of our best and I know Beverly Hills deserves it," Judge Chavez said. "1 know she will bring renewed energy to the Beverly Hills court." Not only is Lefkowitz taking Stein's judicial slot, but she is also replacing Judge EIdon Fox as supervising site judge in Beverly Hills. Lefkowitz claims her appointment was, in part, due to her expe- rience in the criminal court room. "They felt there was a need to have more of the criminal cases in Beverly Hills," she said. Whereas criminal cases were formerly heard in Santa Monica, now they are all being heard at the newly opened Airport court- house because of security purposes. Judge Lefkowitz's presence, however, will enable the Beverly Hills court to hear criminal cases. "My goal is to put other kinds of courts in places where they couldn't be before," Judge Chavez said. "One of my hopes is to make domestic violence accessible to families." FIRST DAY FOR ONE JUDGE; LAST DAY FOR ANOTHER The normally bustling courtroom was unusually quiet Friday afternoon except for the hum of the air conditioning, the distant clacking of a computer keyboard and the rustling of papers from the judge's bench. "Where's my picture?" muttered Judge Judith Stein, as she scrabbled among a pile of paper under the desktop planner on her desk. Seconds later, she pulled out a postcard of the Magna Carta and a rapidly fading, ink stained picture of Stein standing next to a blurry, but somewhat familiar juror. "Do you know who this is? He's Warren Christopher," said Stein as she fin- gered the picture gently and fondly remembered compliments the former Secretary of State and Beverly Hills resident had paid her. "I must really remember to take this with me," she added. Returning to her chambers, she slipped the picture into one of the numerous cardboard boxes scattered around the room. Two vases of pastel flowers sat on her table filled with a dizzying array of tulips and roses, contrasting starkly with the rows of dark green and navy blue law books on the shelf behind. 8 Beverly Hills Weekly The boxes and the flowers were the few signs that today was her last day in court after being a Beverly Hills judge for over 14 years. Stein's sudden retirement surprised many in the courthouse, causing some to speculate that her departure was being forced allegedly poor performance . However, Stein firmly denied the rumors, claiming instead that she was leaving to spend more time with her husband, who is in poor health. "I'm not really retiring. I'm going home to take care of a sick husband," said Stein commented. A recent photo of her and her husband proudly sits on her desk. In the pic- ture, she smiles like a schoolgirl who has found love for the first time. "We just celebrated our one year anniversary," Stein explained. Picking up the picture, she took a glance at it before turning her attention to the sprawl outside her office window. Looking out for the last time, Stein reflected on her 39 years in the law profession, the challenges she had to face and most of all, the type of courtroom she tried to create.