Hard-Charging Prosecutor Becomes a Champion for Children

January 14, 2016

When Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Nash announced his plan to leave the court two years ago, after nearly three decades as a judge and 16 as head of the juvenile court, tributes were heard throughout the juvenile justice community, and even on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nash, Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Los Angeles, told his colleagues, is “an incredible man” and “a champion for children and families,” who deserved congratulations “on his well-earned retirement.”
Many would agree with Cardenas on the superlatives. The retirement part, on the other hand, “I clearly flunked,” Nash says.
At 67 years of age, and with various ailments—he has had multiple knee and shoulder surgeries, limiting the athletic lifestyle he had enjoyed since childhood—he accepted an invitation from his successor as presiding judge, Michael Levanas, to return to the courtroom, this time as a part-time delinquency judge.
Beginning this month, however, he has embarked on what some would call “mission impossible”—to forge cooperation among all of the county’s offices and agencies that provide services for children, as the first head of the Office of Child Protection. And after winning every conceivable local, state, and national honor that can be bestowed on a juvenile court judge, he remains as passionate as ever, he says, about his work.