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Retired L.A. County family law commissioner censured

Investigation of complaints leads Commission on Judicial Performance to censure Ann Dobbs for chronic failure to complete cases within the required time frame.

July 16, 2009|Victoria Kim

A former Los Angeles County Superior Court family law commissioner was publicly censured Wednesday and barred from taking on future judicial assignments for failing to decide a number of cases within the time required by law.

According to the state Commission on Judicial Performance, which investigates misconduct by judges, one litigant complained to court officials that commissioner Ann Dobbs delayed ruling on a case for nearly five years. Two others complained that Dobbs hadn't made a judgment in their cases for 11 months and six months.

Under California law, judges are expected to decide on matters within 90 days after cases are submitted to them. Dobbs served as family law commissioner from March 2001 until she retired in October 2007.

Between 2006 and 2007, court officials transferred hundreds of Dobbs' cases to other judges and gave her time off to complete the others, but she still failed to get them done on time, according to the disciplinary decision.

When she retired in 2007, Dobbs agreed to complete 30 cases from home, half of which had already been sitting on her desk for more than 90 days, according to the decision. She never completed the cases, and mistrials were ultimately declared in at least 15.

Dobbs' attorney said in a statement that her client was accepting responsibility by agreeing to the censure.


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