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After filling a couple of Bay Area vacancies last week, Gov. Gray Davis turned his attention south Wednesday, filling a handful of judgeships from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. In Santa Barbara, Davis elevated Superior Court Commissioner James Iwasko to a judgeship vacated by retirement. The 57-year-old Iwasko, of Santa Maria, was a partner at Iwasko, Good & Klee before he began serving as a family law commissioner in 1997. He attended Hastings College of the Law. In Ventura County, Davis brought up another commissioner, this time to fill a newly created slot. Manuel Covarrubias, 50, past president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Ventura County, had presided over a family law calendar and had been a commissioner for eight years. Covarrubias lives in Oxnard and attended California State University, Northridge and Loyola Law School before getting his start representing indigent clients and eventually opening his own firm. Davis also appointed two civil practitioners to fill spots opened by retirements in Los Angeles County. John Kronstadt, 51, a partner at the Los Angeles office of Arnold & Porter, has experience in federal and state courts and most recently specialized in complex business work. He attended Yale University Law School and lives in Pacific Palisades. The other new judge in Los Angeles is 49-year-old Rafael Ongkeko, who was L.A.’s principal deputy county counsel. It was Ongkeko’s second stint in the county counsel’s office, where he had previously worked for nearly 20 years before venturing into private practice. In the late 1990s, he worked at private firms before returning to the county counsel’s office. He attended Boalt Hall School of Law and lives in South Pasadena. After Wednesday’s appointments, there are 38 open judge spots in the state, according to the governor’s press office.

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