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Judge Levitt's Defense

May 03, 1987

In your article "Defense Lawyers Aim Broadsides at Judge Levitt" (April 19), the term "form over substance" continually was used by Levitt's detractors. As Judge Levitt's clerk, I know that if the California Legislature directs that a procedure be followed, Levitt follows it. If sloppily practicing attorneys ignore the California Rules of Court, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Penal Code, the Evidence Code or any other codes, Levitt will lean on those attorneys.

What a revelation! Judge Levitt gets challenged more often than any other judge. Perhaps that's because he completes his trials more quickly than any other judge and calls in to the presiding judge more often for new assignments. During 1986, Judge Levitt did not hear short cause (Friday) trials, yet during that year he completed more than 30 jury trials and nearly 40 non-jury trials.

Mr. Allen Bloom contends that Judge Levitt's handling of a jury trial prevents the jury from "coming up with justice." I think that's a bunch of smoke. Attorney Jerry Giesler knew all about being a defense attorney, and he said it best: "My clients don't want justice: They want off."

All of this flak being raised about Levitt's behavior is another indication of the defense bar's problems. I think the ruckus they're raising falls into the category of "if the law's on your side, expound the law; if it isn't, then pound the table." Your article contained an awful lot of table-pounding by defense attorneys.

I am reminded that Warren Burger, while Chief Justice of the United States, commented that he believed that half of all lawyers were not competent to practice in the courtroom. As an educated layman who has spent 15 years in the Superior Court watching those lawyers, I think Burger's estimate was too generous.

JACK W. BOYD

National City

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