Lance Ito

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Lance Ito
Los Angeles County Superior Court
Personal details
Born (1950-08-02) August 2, 1950 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Margaret Ann York

Lance Allan Ito (born August 2, 1950) is a retired American judge best known for presiding over the O.J. Simpson murder trial while on the bench of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California. He heard felony criminal cases at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Early life and career[edit]

Ito was born to Jim and Toshi Ito. When his parents were children, both had been kept in Japanese American internment camps with their families during World War II. Ito attended John Marshall High School, where he was student body president and received the Scholar Athlete award in 1968. He earned his bachelor's degree with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1972, and his J.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall in 1975. He then joined the Los Angeles district attorney's office in 1977, working in the hardcore gang unit and the organized crime and terror unit, among others.[1]

In 1981, he married Margaret Ann York, the first woman to attain the rank of Deputy Chief in the Los Angeles Police Department and that department's highest ranking woman officer when she retired in 2002.[2][when?] The two met while at an Eagle Rock murder scene.[citation needed]

Republican Governor George Deukmejian appointed Ito, a Democrat, to the Municipal Court in 1987, and then elevated him to Superior Court in 1989.[citation needed]

Charles H. Keating Jr.'s trial[edit]

In 1992, he presided over the trial of financier Charles H. Keating Jr.. Keating's ensuing 10-year sentence was later overturned on appeal because Ito had neglected to instruct the jury to determine whether Keating intended to defraud investors. It was the prosecution's position that Keating was liable as a matter of strict liability.[3]

O.J. Simpson's murder trial[edit]

Ito became familiar to American television viewers when he presided over the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson, at which Simpson was acquitted.

Current career[edit]

Ito, now retired, was a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge. Although not himself fluent in any foreign language, Ito is regarded as an expert in the area of the use of spoken-language interpreters in courtroom proceedings and regularly teaches at the Judicial College of California.

Ito declines to give interviews regarding the O.J. Simpson murder trial because ethical guidelines for California trial-court judges forbid commenting upon pending matters or matters likely to come before the courts. Ito has considered writing a book about the Simpson trial, but doing so would require resigning from his judicial seat, and Judge Ito believed that resigning from his position would be a dishonor to his family. He has noted his disbelief that public interest in the trial extended through the "turgid" DNA section of the trial. He has used his status to work on issues of judicial reform, such as increasing the number of translators and enforcing rules for foreign national defendants in the court.[4]

Los Angeles County announced on April 17, 2012 that Ito's courtroom, along with 55 others, would be closed due to budget cuts.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Tharp, Mike (23 October 1994). "Ito's Fairness Doctrine". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Adams, Kathleen; Catoggio, Nick; Lofaro, Lina; Rubin, Jeffery C.; Toufexis, Anastasia; Urquhart, Sidney (28 August 1995). "THE WEEK: AUGUST 13-19". Time. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Zagorin, Adam (3 February 1997). "CHARLIE'S AN ANGEL?". Time. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Ray, Don. "Lance A. Ito Judicial Profile". Los Angeles Daily Journal. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved March 6, 2009. 

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