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Judge's Foes Take First Step in Recall Drive

Courts: Organizers say they handed notice to jurist in Simpson custody case. One observer predicts an uphill struggle.

March 01, 1997|PETER NOAH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The Orange County Superior Court judge who granted O.J. Simpson full custody of his two youngest children was handed notice of intent to recall on Friday in her Fullerton courtroom, according to recall organizers.

Making that happen, however, is likely to be an uphill battle, said Michelle A. Reinglass, a former Orange County Bar Assn. president. If the recall succeeds, Wieben Stock will be Orange County's first jurist to be forced out of office through that method.

The Los Angeles-based Women's Progress Alliance, the group spearheading the recall effort, held a press conference in Santa Ana early Friday afternoon, where about 25 recall proponents signed a notice of intent that organizers said would be served to Wieben Stock later that afternoon in her Fullerton courtroom.

Emphasizing the protection of children, the group's president, Tammy Bruce, said voters would not tolerate judges who put children at risk of domestic violence.

"This is a way for communities to say that these are not our values," Bruce said. "[Judges] are not untouchable gods."

Wieben Stock declined to comment Friday.

The group must publish the recall notice within one working day. Then they must file the notice with the county registrar of voters. From that date, Wieben Stock has seven days to respond; after her response is served and the effort approved by the registrar, the recall group has five months to collect 138,000 signatures of registered Orange County voters.

While recall organizers hurried off to serve Wieben Stock the notice, the Orange County Bar Assn. held its own press conference at Superior Court in Santa Ana to denounce the attacks made against her. Franz E. Miller, the group's president, referred to the recall efforts as "carpetbagging" and a "witch hunt."

"If you're really interested in furthering the interests of the children, come talk to us," Miller asked the recall proponents. "We're doing things on a wide-scale basis every day. We can use your help."

Wieben Stock angered some activists who fight domestic violence when she gave full custody of 11-year-old daughter Sydney and her 8-year-old brother Justin to O.J. Simpson in December. Since Simpson had been charged with the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman, the two children had been living in Dana Point with their maternal grandparents. Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges in 1995 but was found liable in civil court for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman last month.

More recently, Wieben Stock came under fire after Riverside police said that Marcia Amsden-Kyle, 38, of Anaheim killed her two children--Storm Cameron Kyle, 9, and Tarah Leigh Kyle, 7--and herself in a murder-suicide in January. Police believe she also killed her boyfriend, Matthew Stephen Bailey, 28. In 1991, Wieben Stock had granted Amsden-Kyle shared custody of her children.

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