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Lecturers in Law

Mary Thornton House

Mary Thornton House

Lecturer in Law

Last Updated: Friday, May 19, 2017

699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA

Mary Thornton House now sits in Department 29 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse presiding over trusts, wills, estate, conservatorship and guardian matter. Prior to her assignment to Probate, she was the supervising judge for the Northeast and North Central Districts which comprises the Pasadena, Alhambra, Glendale, and Burbank Courthouses for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. She celebrated her 20th year on the bench, February 2016. She was appointed to the Pasadena Municipal Court by Governor Pete Wilson in January, 1997 and elevated to the Superior Court in 2000. Prior to her elevation, she was tasked as the first (and only) municipal court judge ever to supervise a Superior Court district. She presided over general jurisdiction cases in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse from 2005 to 2009, prior to returning to the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley as one of its supervising judges. With the recent court reductions due to budget cuts, House assumed additional responsibilities as the Supervising Judge of Hub Operations. She now supervises the Unlawful Detainer, Collections, and Small Claims centralized hub courts throughout the County.

In March 2004, Los Angeles County honored her as one of its ‘Women of the Year’ for her efforts on behalf of women’s issues. In October 2004, she was recognized by the Pasadena Bar Association as their ‘Judge of the Year.’ In 2008, the California Judges Association awarded her the Bernard F. Jefferson’s Award for Excellence in Judicial Education. In June, 2010, she was elected and served for one year as Vice-President of the California Judges Association. In February 2011, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association awarded her the “Excellence in Judicial Administration” award. In March 2013, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association named her their “2013 Judge of the Year.”

House was the 2011 and 2012 Dean of California B.E. Witkin Judicial College which provides for education of all judicial officers in California. The college is a nationally recognized institution and exemplar for judicial education; she has been an instructor and seminar leader since 1997. House is a past and present member of many California statewide committees. Of note, she served six years as a member of the California Administrative Office of the Court’s Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee. Prior to leading the workgroup that was instrumental in passing the new Expedited Jury Trials legislation in and court rules in 2010, she supervised the statewide conversion of legalistic pleading forms for small claims cases into a plain language format and was instrumental in the development of the universal judgment form in wide use today. She chaired a state-wide working group co-sponsored by the Judicial Council and the California Law Revision Commission established to recommend legislative and policy changes to the 3 Track Civil System that ultimately re resulted in increasing the Small Claims monetary jurisdictional amounts in California. This committee further investigated and caused the implementation of rigorous statewide training standards and programs for attorneys serving as pro tem judicial officers.

Prior to her appointment to the Pasadena Municipal Court in 1996 and subsequent elevation to the Superior Court in 2000, she was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles. In that capacity, she was initially a criminal prosecutor and then transferred to the civil branch to defend lawsuits against the City and its employees. In her last years prior to her appointment to the bench, she was general counsel to the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, defending departmental policies, programs, and the Police and Fire Chiefs in both state and federal courts.

House graduated from UCLA with a BA degree in English in 1975. She received her JD from the University of San Diego in 1978. She plays the viola with the Pasadena Community Orchestra and occasionally is able to play with the LA Lawyer’s Philharmonic. She is married to retired Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Investigator James Thornton and mother to Sarah and Kyle Thornton.


U.S. News & World Report
August 14, 2017
Re: Andrew T. Guzman

Dean Andrew Guzman was mentioned for joining deans of other law schools in a statement to the American Bar Association asserting that the GRE serves as a valid and reliable alternative assessment to the LSAT.


Daniel Klerman
June, 2017

“Economics of Legal History.” In The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics, Vol. 3: Public Law and Legal Institutions, edited by Francesco Parisi. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Edward McCaffery
June, 2017

“Taxing Wealth Seriously.” Tax Law Review 70 (2017): 305.

Edward Kleinbard
June, 2017

“Reinventing Business Taxation: The Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax,” posted to SSRN.