JUDGE ALLAN J. GOODMAN at WVRC on March 4th
Well, it worked BROUS and BRADFORD were indeed present to check us in today. Next week it should be Mr. LUSK and Mr. SINGLETON, although compelling BOB, as an Honorary Member, to BE THERE might be a stretch stay tuned.
Jack Harris needs a ride
As you may know, Jack can no longer drive himself. He misses Rotary, and thus I am wondering if we can get a few members to alternate driving him to the meetings. We could do this with, say, five of us, who would each take him once a month. I'm available would others please volunteer?
New member Dr. Colby Smith led the Pledge. PP CHRIS BRADFORD provided the Invocation. Since it turned out to be an Irish prayer, it cost PP SEAN MCMILLAN 25 clams, payable in dollars, of course. “Lord, bless us with friends, and laughter and fun, with rain that’s as soft as the light from the sun. Bless us with stars as bright each night you’ve given us help to know wrong from right. You’ve given us so much, Lord, please give us, too, a heart that is grateful always to you. Amen.” SEAN, that’s worth at least the 25 buck fine! LENNY came forward to learn that he would be marching on the Ides of March, and was shown the hat he might be wearing. The song was Clementine, with song sheets, and we carried it for two full verses plus chorus, by golly.
We had two Visiting Rotarians, plus another, but only his wife got there! Alice Romany sat at our table, waiting for her husband, Renaldo, who belongs to Beverly Hills, but alas, he didn’t make it. Those that did included Assistant Governor Veronica Martinez, who belongs to the Latinos Unidos Rotary Club, and Rodney Spokes, of the RC of Leicester, England, and his wife, Pam who is a member of a new club, Novis, also in Leicester. The Spokes were guests of PP PETER MORE, who also brought his wife, Shirley. MASAKI NAKODA was introduced by PP MIKE NEWMAN, who noted MASAKI would be having a Rotary lunch next week in New York! The Head Table was graced by the presence of PP RON LYSTER, ALI SHOJI and PP CHRIS BRADFORD, each of whom declined the opportunity to speak.
At this point, our Speaker arrived, and since he had to leave early, Prexy ED introduced him right away. Allan J. Goodman is a Judge of the Los Angeles, Superior Court, presently assigned to direct calendar unlimited jurisdiction civil courtroom. His recent cases include medical malpractice, shareholder derivative contracts and personal injury matters. His law experience includes teaching, lecturing, authoring, and consulting, plus significant case law. His Community Service includes being a Regent of the University of California, and a member of numerous legal and civil organizations. His law degree is from UCLA, he is married and has two children.
Judge Goodman thanked us for inviting him to speak, and his general topic will be the budgetary problems of the local courts. The variety of cases they deal with is complete from minor property disputes, to who owns a given company, for instance. The main problem facing our courts is whether they will have the staff necessary to carry out their functions. A few years ago it took, on average, up to five years for many cases to be heard, with the obvious problems that situations change during that time, witnesses die, etc. Recently that wait-time had been reduced to about two years but now the prospects again are for longer delays, due to staff shortages.
About 1998, the court's budget was moved to the General Fund, which means it competes with everyone else for a total of less funds than used to be available. In LA County we have about 470 judges and another 150 Commissioners this is about 1/3rd of the court budget for the whole state. In 2002 there was another budgetary crisis, and about 25 courtrooms were closed. Since then, an emergency fund has been developed, now being about ninety million dollars. Thus half of the fund was allocated to operations for this year. There was also a freeze on hiring, and this year 330 staff were fired note, these are trained people, not easily replaceable. In Sept, they expect to lay off another 500 staff. Starting in July 2010, this could result in the closing of 75 to 100 more courtrooms. In three years this means we will close about half the civil courtrooms and lay off perhaps 1500 staff. Criminal courts will not be reduced that drastically, due to the nature of their cases. Since July lst 2009, the 3rd Wednesday of each month, all courts are closed.
There is a controversy in the Judicial Branch about how to solve, or at least help, this situation. In looking a possible other sources, one is the courthouse construction fund. Presently, when fines and fees are paid, part of that money goes into a Construction Fund, to be used throughout the state. Currently the LA District has five projects that have been improved, and the presiding Judge feels that we should spend money to keep existing facilities open rather than build new ones. Another possible source of funds is what is being set aside to implement a new computer system. The problem here is that this “new” system was started FIFTEEN YEARS AGO (YOE emphasis) and still isn’t operational. The program was written in 1985! If we divert these funds, it will further slow down the small testing that is now going on. So, how about some questions?
Q&A Why are we called so often for Jury Duty, and why is it so easy to ignore the summons? The system brings you up about once a year, with 50,000 called. We have about 400 courtrooms per day that need juries. You now call in each evening, and are only liable for a five day period. We do try to find those people who do not respond. How is it decided about which cases are given to which judge? Most judges start in Criminal, the thought being that that way they will be qualified during their tenure for Criminal work at any time. Many judges are specialists, in family law, for instance. In 2000, Municipal Courts were eliminated these were for lesser cases but they still need to be assigned. The dividing line here is if the amount in question is more or less than $25,000 that determines who gets the smaller cases. Judge Goodman has a hearing next week on a case involving 260 million dollars! This morning he had a hearing for a case involving $26,000. The cases are assigned randomly. It seems that our court system is jammed with frivolous lawsuits why can’t these be reduced? Every case has Alternative Resolution, plus possible mediation offered before a trial date is set, but if not used, it must go to trial. The basic problem is, who should make the decision about which cases go and which do not. He spoke about a doctor leaving a scalpel inside a wound “we call those “Retained object cases” which got a big laugh. Judge Goodman, we thank you for sharing your thoughts with us keep up the good work, please.
After the Judge had to leave, President ED GAULD spoke about DICK ROBINSON:
“As many of you know, Dick Robinson died last Friday. He was a member of WVRC since 1981 and had perfect attendance for some 30 years. He leaves his wife Jessie and four daughters.
Dick was born in Altus, Oklahoma. He served admirably in WW II. He earned an engineering degree from MIT. Tiring of the Boston weather, he came out to California to earn a Masters in Engineering from Cal Tech. In 1947, he spent Christmas with his family in Oklahoma, and had tickets to the Rose Bowl. He took a train to Dallas and then an American Airlines plane to Phoenix, and then on to Los Angeles. It was on this American Airlines flight that he met his future wife Jessie, who was a stewardess at the time. Dick asked Jessie for her phone number and she said she never gave out her phone number to passengers but that she would make an exception for Dick. They subsequently got married and at the time of Dick’s death they had been married for 61 years.
Dick worked as an Aeronautical Engineer for 20 years and was involved in the infancy of rocket launching.
While working as an engineer, he learned about Mutual Funds and came to the conclusion that they were the ideal way for an average person to build up wealth without having to worry about picking individual stocks. So, in 1968 he made the decision to quit engineering and become an investment advisor. He taught his clients the importance of systematic investing through mutual funds and helped many people achieve wealth. One of his clients, a secretary, was able, over the course of many years, to accumulate three million dollars as a result of his advice.
Dick was an extremely ethical man. He lived a good life with no regrets. In his later years, he travelled extensively, taking his wife, children and grandchildren all over the world.
He loved Rotary. He loved telling stories. He was blessed with good health up to the end. He stopped working in February. The day before he died, he sent out retirement letters to his clients because he thought it was time to retire. A Memorial Service will be held for Dick the end of April. I will keep you informed.
Let us have a moment of silence for Dick.”
PP STEVE SCHERER came forward, and asked Dr. Colby Smith to join him. STEVE then inducted COLBY into the fellowship of WVRC, and asked Prexy ED to place his badge and pin on COLBY. He was given a standing ovation by all present
PP RON LYSTER, seated at the Head Table, was asked to draw the raffle ticket. PROBABLY (YOE emphasis) the choice of his law partner, PP STEVE SCHERER was Kosher (my word), but in any case PP STEVE won the bottle of 2000 J. Lohr, which donee Prexy ED claimed had a high rating on the Richter scale…
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.