Irvine Councilman David G. Sills, an unsuccessful state Assembly candidate and President Reagan’s former son-in-law, has been appointed to the Orange County Superior Court bench by Gov. George Deukmejian, it was announced Wednesday.
Sills, 47, an attorney practicing in Newport Beach, will replace Judge Kenneth E. Lae, who retired last December. Sills, a Republican, will be sworn into the $77,129-a-year post within 30 days.
Although Sills has not formally resigned from the Irvine City Council, he said he will do so sometime this week and expects the seat to be filled by appointment.
His appointment to the bench ended speculation in some political circles that he would challenge Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley next year.
“I know that’s been mentioned, but I’ve said publicly and to my friends that I’m not (interested in Riley’s seat),” Sills said Wednesday. “I decided around the first of the year to make a career change (to the) judiciary rather than partisan politics. . . . Tom Riley is running for reelection. I would not run against Tom. Tom’s a good friend of mine, and I think he’s doing a superb job.”
Sills said that he learned of his new job when the governor phoned him Monday. According to Alan Slater, Orange County Superior Court administrator, there are now 50 judges on the Orange County Superior Court bench and one vacancy.
Superior Court judgeships are elected posts but may be filled by gubernatorial appointment when vacated midterm.
By law, judges cannot practice law, and Sills said that he is turning his law practice, which specializes in civil litigation, over to other attorneys now working with him.
Once Sills resigns his Irvine post, which pays $300 a month, the City Council within 30 days must either appoint someone to the vacant seat or call for a special election, according to City Clerk Nancy Lacey. Citizens could petition the council “to put it to an election,” which according to state election code could not be held until April, Lacey said.
Cited by Panel
Sills was defeated by state Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle (R-Huntington Beach) in the June, 1982, GOP primary for the 69th Assembly District seat. During that campaign, a Republican Party ethics panel ruled that Sills had violated a code of ethics by besmirching the character of another Republican with misleading information about Frizzelle in a campaign brochure.
Sills was married to Maureen Reagan from 1964 until their divorce in 1967, during which time Ronald Reagan was governor of California.
In another appointment yesterday, Deukmejian appointed Irvine resident William F. Rylaarsdam to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Rylaarsdam, 48, is a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Breidenbach, Swainston, Yokaitis & Crispo. He will fill a newly created position on the court.