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Are Private Judges the Answer to Crowded Courts?

November 05, 2006

It is extremely important to emphasize how arbitration and mediation do serve the administration of justice ("Is Justice Served?" by Eric Berkowitz, Oct. 22). I have been a member of the California bar since 1955, a former assistant United States attorney and an active arbitrator and mediator since 1969. In 1990, I decided to become a full-time "neutral." Many people who make this choice do so not to "desert" the private practice or the bench but to provide a much-needed alternative.

It should be noted that very few alternative dispute resolution professionals are compensated anywhere close to $1 million per year. It is absolutely fallacious to suggest that most ADR professionals do not focus on a fair and just decision.

The vast majority of cases meet the standards that the public and the system of justice demand. There are evils to be addressed, just as there are in the court system. However, the ADR field is absolutely necessary in order to speedily and properly carry out the administration of civil justice today.

Robert M. Shafton

Manhattan Beach


I have been a lawyer in L.A. County for 27 years and worked in the Superior Court for three years prior to that. I have personally seen the total quagmire that exists in the family law and probate calendar, and I have given my clients the opportunity to hire a private judge. The ones who can borrow money or charge the fees are grateful to end the nightmare of ongoing litigation. The ones who can't must "wait it out."

As for Berkowitz's description of Judge Jill Robbins, he is shameful. Although I'm not a personal friend of hers, I knew her when she was in private practice--and she carried designer handbags then. Her ability to resolve private disputes and clear the congested court calendars should be commended.

Frances L. Martin



I had a difficult time controlling the steam emanating from my ears after reading the article about prostitution, oops, I meant arbitration. Can anyone really doubt the lack of respect so many people have toward the judiciary? These judges and lawyers are motivated by nothing other than greed. The search for justice seems to have been forgotten in a headlong plunge for more money and more designer handbags.

Is justice served? What justice?

Richard Rebhun

Los Angeles

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