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Lawyer Fredricks Named to Finish Judge's Term

August 21, 1986|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

Attorney Josh M. Fredricks of Manhattan Beach has been appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian to fill the unexpired term of South Bay Municipal Court Judge W. Mark Wood, who retired in May.

Fredricks, 36, who has offices in Hermosa Beach, is expected to be sworn into office next month. He said on Wednesday he will resign his seat as a trustee for the South Bay Union High School District, a post he has held since 1977.

The state Constitution prohibits a judge from holding another public office during his tenure on the bench.

If Fredricks, whose judicial appointment came on Monday, wishes to remain a judge past 1990--the year Wood's term would have ended--he will have to run for election. Wood served as a Municipal Court judge for 13 years.

Municipal Court judges are paid $74,432 annually.

Fredricks has maintained a private practice in the South Bay since 1977. He is the son of Thomas Fredricks, who was appointed a Municipal Court judge in 1968 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and was appointed to a Superior Court judgeship three years later. The elder Fredricks died of cancer in 1984 while in office.

Josh Fredricks said he has been active in politics since he was 16, working in campaigns for state office seekers. He is co-chairman of the governor's reelection campaign for the Long Beach and South Bay areas, and was the South Bay chairman for Deukmejian's 1982 gubernatorial campaign.

A graduate of USC, where he majored in English, Fredricks worked three years as a Manhattan Beach police officer before he graduated from Loyola University School of Law in 1976. He also has taught police science and law classes at El Camino College in Torrance.

"I am really pleased and looking forward to it," Fredricks said of his new job. "I think it will be a challenge and something different from what I have been doing."

The South Bay Municipal Court has six full-time judges and two commissioners. Although the state Legislature approved a seventh judge for the court in May, 1985, the county board of supervisors has left the position unfunded.

Court officials say they need the extra judge to handle the court's growing workload, and also need extra space for its present judges. The Municipal Court only has six courtrooms, a condition that has created a logistical headache for the court's eight jurists.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday instructed county officials to work with South Bay court administrators to study the possibility of opening a satellite court facility in Redondo Beach to alleviate crowding at the Torrance courthouse.

The board unanimously passed a motion introduced by Supervisor Deane Dana directing the county's chief administrator's office to determine whether it is feasible to open a small court in Redondo Beach. Such a facility could ease the space squeeze at the courthouse and serve the densely populated beach communities.

In July, Dana had introduced another motion that would have allocated $350,000 from a courthouse construction fund to build a courtroom next to the Torrance Courthouse on Maple Street in an existing building. Torrance is not scheduled to receive money from the fund until the 1990s.

Fund Measure Fails

That motion failed to garner enough votes after some supervisors expressed concern about dipping into the courthouse construction fund, and about whether $350,000 would be enough to build the courtroom, according to Dana aide Dennis Morefield.

Chris Crawford, administrator for the South Bay Municipal Court, said that he has held some preliminary discussions with Redondo Beach officials about the possibility of opening either a courtroom or a clerk's office in a city-owned building.

Crawford said such a facility would be similar to one opened by the Los Angeles Municipal Court in Westchester last December. That office, on city-owned property, was established to alleviate crowded conditions at the West Los Angeles courthouse by making it possible for people to pay parking tickets, sign up for traffic school and schedule court appearances without going to the courthouse.

"We need some short-range solutions, and it could be that a Redondo Beach satellite would provide instant relief for our overcrowded condition," Crawford said.

Crawford added that Municipal Court judges are still considering a proposal to hold split sessions at the Torrance courthouse to alleviate crowding. Under such a system,the courthouse would open earlier and close later, with judges and other personnel being assigned to one of two shifts.

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