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News, Santa Monica, Courts

Santa Monica Courthouse Judge Joseph S. Biderman To Retire

Posted Feb. 7, 2014, 7:06 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Biderman, who presided over a courtroom in Santa Monica, will be retiring in March.

According to Patricia Kelly of the Superior Court’s Public Information Department, 57-year-old Biderman will officially retire March 18, though his last day on the bench was Jan. 31. Biderman was not available for comment.

A graduate of UCLA Law School, Biderman was admitted to the California State Bar in 1981 and was appointed in 2003 to the judgeship by Gov. Gray Davis. Biderman was also a Superior Court Commissioner between 2000 and 2003 and a Municipal Court Commissioner from 1994 to 2000.

In addition to his service on the bench, Biderman was a deputy public defender in Los Angeles and also worked as a trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Just before joining the court, Biderman was reportedly associated with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, working in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Biderman, who also served as managing counsel of Honda North America, recipient of the Century City Bar Association’s “Municipal Court Commissioner of the Year” in 2000.

During his time on the bench, two cases came through Biderman’s courtroom that gained significant media attention.

In 2001, a former deputy city attorney was discharged from a courtroom presided by Biderman – who was then a commissioner – when the former reportedly made derogatory statements toward the latter.

Biderman took a motion filed by deputy city attorney off calendar because she did not appear at the scheduled hearing on time. According to news reports covering the matter, the deputy city attorney told Biderman’s clerk that the judge “would have to answer to the Creator” for not allowing the motion to be heard.

The matter became the subject of a 2008 opinion published by the California Court of Appeals. The deputy city attorney, Lynn Magnandonovan, filed a claim against the City of Los Angeles. Magnandonovan claimed she was discriminated against by her employer after the incident with Biderman and was initially awarded a substantial settlement.

After the City of Los Angeles filed an appeal, the California Court of Appeals reversed Magnandonovan’s award, with the deputy city attorney’s 2001 interaction with Biderman the central issue in the legal opinion and reversal.

According to the Court of Appeals decision, Magnandonovan accused Biderman of having a “personal vendetta” against her and told the commissioner’s clerk in a telephone conversation he “would be answering to God” for taking her motion off calendar.

The court’s opinion stated, “Commissioner Biderman understood plaintiff's remarks as a ‘veiled reference’ to his homosexuality” and he “felt sick … [and] personally insulted” by what Magnandonovan said to the clerk.

Five years later, Biderman presided over a request to prevent “Borat” from being released on DVD until a scene was deleted. Two men who appeared in the movie and were captured on-screen making derogatory statements filed the request, according to reports. Biderman reportedly rejected the request.

LASC did not report whether anyone would take over Biderman’s seat or if any other judicial appointments were pending.

The retired judge earned his Bachelors degree from the University of Virginia.

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