Winter 2020 • Issue 67, page 1

The Honorable Mitchell Beckloff LA Superior Court Judge, Dept. 85

By Mosier, Robert*

Special thanks to CRF member and attorney Alan Mirman for arranging for this interview with Judge Beckloff.  Alan was away and unable to attend the interview, but we acknowledge his efforts that have paid a nice dividend in the following article.  

Judge Mitchell Beckloff is with the Los Angeles Superior Court assigned to the Civil Division. He currently presides over a Writs and Receivers Department. Over the course of his judicial career, Judge Beckloff has heard matters in the juvenile, family, probate and civil courts. He was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger twelve years ago. Prior to his appointment, Judge Beckloff served as a judicial officer (Juvenile Court Referee and later Commissioner) since 1999 or roughly twenty years in our judicial system. His law school training: he graduated magna cum laude from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (a law school familiar to nearly all California Receivers). He received numerous academic awards, was Order of Coif, member of Alpha Sigma Nu and an Editor of the Law Review. His undergraduate degree is from UCLA. Other judicial assignments include Supervising Judge of the Probate Division from 2009 to 2013, and Supervising Judge for the Western District of the Court from 2016 to 2018 and now Writs and Receivers.

Judge Beckloff’s biggest case during this nineteen-year tenure as a judicial officer: there are two; he was and is the Judge for all purposes in the Michael Jackson’s probate estate including the alleged sexual harassment claims. It is his “institutional knowledge” that prevents the case being reassigned, despite his current assignment Writs and Receivers. The second largest case also involves a probate matter – the estate of Mark Hughes, founder of Herbalife, died at a relatively early age leaving a $350 million fortune to Hughes’ eight-year-old son. Judge Beckloff adds that it was a 56-day court trial!

Judge Beckloff is quite active in the judicial community. He has taught new and experienced judges through the Center for Judicial Education and Research and through the court. He also has frequently spoken on a number of panels for continuing legal education of the bar.

Where did it all start? Judge Beckloff might be considered an early globetrotter. He was born in Hawaii where his father was a physician, but he grew up and was educated in Kansas City, Mo. It was UCLA that brought him west and the rest is history.

After law school, then counsel Beckloff joined Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. Later, he was one of the founding partners of Groman & Beckloff that, quite interestingly, practiced child custody litigation including appeals. Both Groman & Beckloff are now Superior Courts Judges and recall that Judge Beckloff started as a Referee in Juvenile Court hearing child custody litigation cases.

With regard to receivers, Judge Beckloff reports that he has had roughly twelve applications and has granted the appointment in six of the matters. A common thread among many applications for the appointment is cannabis. Judge Beckloff notes that he finds many proposed orders overreaching and is frequently required to resize the order to fit the circumstances. The author told war stories of Judge Bob O’Brien who would typically have 60 to 70 matters on calendar every morning in the early to mid-1990s following the real estate crash back then. Ah, the good old days.

Personally, Judge Beckloff can be described as spirited. When not wearing the black robe, he can be seen sporting suspenders and reports to have a large collection. For recreation, he is likely to be found in NYC at his apartment on the upper east side where he and his husband, Clay Williams, enjoy all that NYC has to offer including theatre, music in all forms and unending arts and museums. They travel frequently, including such lands as Africa and Japan just to mention a couple. The world is their oyster.

Judge Beckloff is smart, personable, presumably hard working and dedicated. The Writs and Receivers department could not ask for more. 

*Robert P. Mosier is a Southern California receiver and trustee and principal of Mosier & Company, Inc., a firm that has specialized in managing and turning around troubled companies and real estate projects for more than 35 years