For years Torrance Court has done without an EDP Court for misdemeanors. What this meant was many cases languished for long periods of time before resolving and the dispositions between the various cities were inconsistent. That all changed when Judge George Bird was appointed to the Torrance Bench last month. Now, cases are settling faster than before and the calendar is being cleared on a much more expedited basis.
Many attorneys are applauding the change because it creates an environment where sentences are handed down on a much more even handed consistent level with little variation between the city prosecutors. For example, a couple months ago if a person got arrested in Manhattan Beach for drunk in public the offer was quite different from a person arrested in Redondo or Hermosa Beach. This was unfair and confusing to the general public. As a local DUI attorney in Torrance I can say there has been a marked improvement of efficiency with the new EDP Court and Judge Bird at the helm in Division 3.
Many attorneys have also commented on the fact that Judge Bird has no problem disagreeing with a prosecutor when the offer they are making is unfair under the specific circumstances of the case. Overall his appointment has been well received by the local bar.
DUI cases in Torrance are processed differently than in other Courts. The following is a summary of how cases are assigned:
Initially all cases are heard in Division 3 on the second floor of the Courthouse. This Courtroom does all misdemeanor arraignments from all cities, including Redondo Beach, Hermosa, Gardena, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Peninsula and of course the city of Torrance. If a not guilty plea is entered the case is "sent out" to another division for all purposes including trial. The division breakdown is as follows:
Division 2, Judge Sandra Thompson: Redondo and Hermosa
Division P, Judge Nicole Bershon: Gardena, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Manhattan Beach
Division 5, Judge Gary Tanaka: City of Torrance
All felony DUI cases start in Div 4, Judge Thomas Sokolov.