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Born: Jan. 25, 1942 Appointed: April 6, 1981, by BrownPrevious work of note: Referee, Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, 1975-1981; assoc. dean, prof., UCLA School of Law, 1970-1981; staff attorney, asst. dir., Western Center on Law and Poverty, 1968-70 Law degrees: LL.M, Georgetown Univ., (1967); J.D., University of Southern California (1966)The young defense attorney was painfully sure the plaintiff’s expert witness was barred by law and insisted she had an earlier opinion to prove it. “It’s directly on point,” she implored, while the plaintiff’s attorney sat silent.Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Boland asked a couple of questions. But the defense attorney kept repeating herself, gesturing to emphasize each word as if speaking to a child.“Could you pull the opinion, please?” Boland asked his clerk. Within minutes, the judge had scanned the earlier case, asked the defense attorney if she didn’t see how specific facts could be distinguished from the facts before the court, and issued his ruling: The expert witness could testify, with some exceptions, as to the bulk of what the plaintiff planned.It was vintage Boland: constructive, academic rather than adversarial, and not quite a total loss for either side.But if Boland perceives that an experienced attorney is trying to get away with something, the patient teacher disappears.Earlier this month, in a proposed class action by contract lawyers who claim to be common-law employees of the Los Angeles County Counsel’s office, the judge quietly lambasted counsel for filing briefs he considered too long, too late and too confusing.At issue was the plaintiffs’ response to the county’s demurrer. The judge recounted on the record how he’d sat at his dining room table over the weekend drawing charts, trying in vain to connect responses to arguments.It appeared responses to two separate actions had been combined in one document to finesse length limits, without the attorneys’ first getting permission from the court, the judge noted.Alluding to possible sanctions and advancing the date for a ruling, he warned, “The failure to comply with the rules is creating a hardship upon this court, and I am concerned about that.”The county counsel suit is one of two that can be expected to draw attention to Boland’s understated style in the coming weeks.The other concerns a 4-year-old who allegedly suffered brain damage from prescription overdoses administered while she was in foster care. The so-called “Baby S” case, set for trial today, contends that child welfare authorities were negligent.It’s easy to see why a case that promises to be a full-blown referendum on the county’s beleaguered Department of Children’s Services should be assigned to Boland.Beyond the general esteem he enjoys — civic groups practically line up to give him “Jurist of the Year” awards, he sits on the state Judicial Council, and he headed the California Judges Association in 1995 — his background includes a reformist stint as the supervising judge of the county’s dependency court in the 1980s.By one account, his cracking down on continuances cut the waiting period for trial from 13 weeks to five. In these days of countywide fast-track dockets, however, Boland chooses to emphasize his flexibility when asked about his continuance policy.“I try to be reasonable. I practiced law, I married someone who was practicing law, so I understand the pressures attorneys face,” he says.His statement also, consciously or not, speaks to perhaps the only criticism ever published about him. Anonymous plaintiffs lawyers told Courts and Judges Handbook that he is “fussy” as a result of having been away from the practice of law for so long that he has forgotten what it is like.It has been a while since he argued a case. After graduation from law school, he was a research attorney for U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk before becoming staff counsel in 1968 — and later the assistant director — for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.By 1970, he was out of the courtroom and teaching at UCLA School of Law, where he became director of clinical legal education and stayed for more than a decade until his appointment to the bench.Last year, his name was one of a handful put forward by Gov. Gray Davis for a possible appointment to the state court of appeal. A third-generation Angeleno, Boland comes from a family of physicians. He is married to U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow and they have one son.

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