Judicial Profile: Department 57
Commissioner Lowell Richards
- Biographical Information
- Ohio State University, B.Sc. Education (Instrumental & Vocal Music)
John F. Kennedy University J.D.
- Pre-Legal experience:
- Professional Musician—Stan Kenton, Tex Beneke, Bob Crosby. The Columbus Symphony, others
US Army-Staff composer/arranger for the US Military Academy Band, West Point
Computer Systems Engineer—IBM Corp, Kaiser Steel
Flight Instructor, Aircraft, Instrument, Multi-Engine
Cal. Air National Guard, ret.
- Pre-Bench Experience:
- General law practice, criminal defense, juvenile, general civil. Over 200 jury trials, 130 as Judge Pro Tem
- Judicial Experience
- Commissioner appointed in May 2001
Current assignment is Pittsburge Court every morning and Richmond Court every afternoon.
Traffic cases, Small Claims and Unlawful Detainers. Small Claims and UD's are set for 8:45 am in Pittsburg, 1:15 pm in Richmond.
- Pre-bench Civic & Professional Activities
- CCCBA Committees and activities
President of Homeowners Association
- Current Civic & Professional Activities
- CCCBA Lawyer Referral Service, committee member.
- Continuing Legal Education Faculty
- Member, CJER New Judge Education Committee (rewriting the trials course for new judges)
Member, CJER Tech Education Committee
CA Judicial College faculty (teach traffic trials, small claims, consumer law, unlawful detainers, commissioner powers, MS PowerPoint)
- Courtroom Policies
Typically rule from the bench in Traffic, unlawful detainers and domestic violence.
Do not rule form the bench in small claims because of potential conflict between parties.
- Not available.
- Heard in the regular calendar.
- Standard rules apply, particularly for notice to the other side.
- Seldom and issue in these calendars.
- Settlement Conferences
- Always available and open to settlement on any available day.
- All small claims and unlawful detainer matters are offered mediation on the day of the trial. Small Claims cases are set at 1:00 and mediators are present in the courtroom. About 50% of those cases settle. Selected civil harassment cases are sent to mediation.
- In Limine Motions
- Handled at trial, such as venue motion.
Hearsay is admissible in small claims court.
Declarations are submitted in Domestic Violence and Civil Harassment cases and the opposing party may cross examine.
Juveniles are not permitted in court for Domestic Violence/Civil Harassment cases.
- Rare in these matters.
- If not submitted in advance are provided to opposing parties at trial.
- A large percentage of participants in this Department are in pro per. Attorneys are expected to behave at least 1 level better than the pro pers.
- Court Reporters & Translators
- Reporting is by audio tape. Translators are provided for traffic(criminal) cases and restraining order cases. In all other cases, parties must provide any translation needed, although clerks are occasionally brought in when justice demands.
- Computers in the Courtroom
- A computer connected to a large television set is used from the bench in the courtroom. Video tape capability available for exhibits on the same television.
- See above.
- Cameras in the Courtroom
- By application to the Court.
- Know the law, be prepared to discuss settlement, stick to the issues, show respect to the opposing side. Above all, DON’T WHINE.
- Interviewer Observations
- In addition to an incredible and diverse pre-legal and pre-bench experience, Commissioner Richards neglects to inform that he is an incredibly accomplished photographer, as evidenced by his Chamber walls. He holds twelve (12) U.S./World Ultra-Lite records, including San Francisco to New York in 1984, and San Francisco to Los Angeles. His courtroom boasts the only PowerPoint presentation capability in the State.