Judge Rafael Ongkeko, LA Superior Court

February 5, 2009

LA Superior CourtRafael A. Ongkeko, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Department 43, Stanley Mosk. Judge Ongkeko was appointed to the bench by Governor Davis October 17, 2002. Judge Ongkeko graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a Bachelor Degree and a law degree from Boalt Hall. The judge spent 23 years in public and private practice, 19 of those years in the office of County Counsel.

Having dealt with judges most of my life, justice courts, municipal courts and superior courts. I can see characteristics and get a feeling about the control and the tone I feel in the courtroom. During the last few days I sat in Judge Ongkekos court and felt like a person with an eating disorder in a room full of cup cakes. Do I eat it or do I not, Judge Ongkeko has a very scholarly appearance about him. He speaks well and looks the part, as he should, he is the judge! Family law judges (DIVORCE) tend to be able to “deal cards” quick and fast, a few can even deal by throwing the cards over their heads and they all land right were they should. I listened and watched very closely as Judge Ongkeko would listen and “get it” and if there was a way to stand on the previous judges ruling, that is what he would do. It did not feel to me as the “path of least resistance” but rather being a little unsure as to “pulling the trigger.” Make a decision, one of his own and then see what happens. My take and feel on this judge is based on my limited observations and I am sure that once this judge hits his stride he will gain more control over the cases before him.

I spoke to several lawyers and they were all guarded as to their thoughts on Judge Ongkeko, again time will tell. Having to sit there as an observer it was also obvious to me that Judge Ongkeko was very concerned about doing the right thing in his decisions with a huge abundance of caution. It is a little like old cops I rode with and learned from, we had “gun fighters” and we had “diplomats” — both had guns and badges and all looked like cops, but they had a different style in enforcing the law, just as judges!

I look forward to watching Judge Ongkeko in the future and wish him well in the years to come…do you think Judge Endman started out like this?

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