Presiding Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court
Judge David Wesley is committed to ensuring the health of L.A.'s court system - and keeping local youth on the right side of it.
For four decades, the Hon. David Wesley '72 has led an exemplary career as a public defender, attorney in private practice, commissioner and judge. Now, as the new Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, he oversees the largest trial court system in the United States. His biggest challenge in this position is dealing with the impact of the economic downturn. "My No. 1 goal is to keep the courts open," he says. "Our budget has been cut 30 percent over the past four years, while our case load remains consistent or is rising."
Following 10 years in the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office, Judge Wesley was appointed to the bench in 1993 as a Hearing Judge for the California State Bar Court. Two years later, he became a Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner assigned to Juvenile Court. In 1997, Governor Pete Wilson elevated him to a Superior Court judgeship. Although pleased with the promotion, it was difficult for him to leave Juvenile Court. "I loved practicing there," he says. "I felt like we were making a real difference in these kids' lives."
In fact, Judge Wesley's love of juvenile law inspired him, along with fellow Southwestern graduate Judge Jaime Corral '70, to establish one of the first Teen Court programs in Los Angeles. Through this innovative program, misdemeanor cases involving minors are taken out of the Criminal Court system and heard by a jury of high school students. The goal is to reduce recidivism and allow student defendants and jurors to experience the judicial process firsthand.
Judge Wesley also helped bring Teen Court to Southwestern. "We get law students involved in working with high school kids," Judge Wesley says, "which is wonderful."
Judge Wesley has been recognized for judicial excellence by the city and county of Los Angeles, the Criminal Courts Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Judicial Council of California. In 2007, Judge Wesley was honored as Southwestern's Outstanding Judicial Officer.