Ex-L.A. mayor is now Judge Hahn

Chong is a Times staff writer.

Former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn’s stint as a private citizen lasted all of about three years. On Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him and 16 others to L.A. County Superior Court judgeships.

“I miss public service,” said Hahn, 58, who said he entered public life 33 years ago as a deputy city attorney. That doesn’t include all the years he learned about public service from his father, longtime L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.

His sister, L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, was extremely pleased with the governor’s recognition. “He’s deliberative, he’s fair, and he’s the smartest person I know,” she said of her brother. “I think it’s perfect for him at this point in his life.”

Hahn said he had always tried to make the right decision, even if it was not easy politically. He pointed to his stand against San Fernando Valley secession.


“I think I have a lot of experience making decisions unpopular with people,” he said with a chuckle.

Since leaving the mayor’s office in 2005, Hahn worked for two years in real estate finance. He says he’s glad he got out of the business before the market took a tumble.

Lately he has been consulting for a lawyer in Long Beach on financial securities and environmental cases. He recently received training to be a mediator. Hahn was one of 13 Democrats appointed to Los Angeles County judgeships by the governor. Four slots were filled by Republicans.

“Democrats or Republicans, the governor is most interested in appointing the most qualified individuals for the bench,” said spokeswoman Rachel Cameron.


The state has 1,676 judicial positions, with 436 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court system, Cameron said.

Most of the L.A. County vacancies are the result of retirements. Hahn and the other appointees will make $178,789 a year. They will serve out the remainders of the terms of the judges they are replacing. If they want to stay on, they will have to run for election.

“Hopefully, I won’t get opposed,” Hahn said.



Times staff writer Phil Willon contributed to this report.