Filipino father, son judges on LA court make history
LOS ANGELES—Thirty-four years ago, Mel “Red” Recana was appointed by then California Gov. Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
On Thursday (Friday in Manila), Brown, who was reelected governor in 2011, appointed Recana’s son, Julian, to the LA Superior Court, making the Recanas the first Fil-Am father and son to serve in the California judiciary.
“The governor’s appointment of Julian to join his father on the Los Angeles Superior Court bench is historic and fitting,” said Mel Avanzado, founding president of the Philippine American Bar Association (Paba) Foundation. “Julian will be a tremendous asset to our bench.”
The younger Recana became the ninth Fil-Am judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the largest unified trial court in the United States, said Paba president Christine Gonong.
The younger Recana is a founding officer of the Paba Foundation and a lifetime member of Paba.
A veteran prosecutor, Recana has served as a deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 1999. He is currently with Hardcore Gang Division in Downtown Los Angeles, prosecuting violent, gang-related offenses.
He was previously assigned to the Long Beach Courthouse for 11 years, prosecuting murders in Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles.
‘Exemplary public servant’
Gonong described Recana as “a highly effective trial lawyer who has been recognized by his peers as an outstanding advocate… and an exemplary public servant.”
Recana was recently honored as the 2015 Prosecutor of the Year by the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association, which recognized him for his “pursuit of justice and dedication to the Asian Pacific Islander community.” He was awarded Deputy District Attorney of the Month in 2014.
Recana received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1992 at the University of California, Berkeley, and his juris doctor degree from Loyola Law School in 1998. He began his career as a contract attorney at Early Maslach Price & Baukol.
Recana’s father, Mel, was also the first Fil-Am deputy district attorney in the County of Los Angeles.
2 terms as presiding judge
He served two terms as presiding judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court. He was elected by the 190 municipal court judges in Los Angeles County chair of the Municipal Court Judges Association in 1999. He was also elected for a three-year term to the executive board of the California Judges Association.
According to the older Recana’s book, “How to Try Your Own Case in Court—And Win,” he worked as a court reporter to pay for his law studies and graduated from the University of the East in Manila in 1964.
A few years later, he moved to California and passed the bar exam. He received a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
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