Out of the Ashes

He was a public information officer/publicist’s dream come true.

Born into wealth and privilege in the Dutch East Indies in 1945, his family lost it all when that colonized island group at the Equator gained its independence to become Indonesia, or so Patrick Couwenberg’s story went.

After his family moved to The Netherlands where he attended school and mastered five languages, young Patrick, who claims to have been born Patrick van Couwenberg de Blois Detris Long, moved to California where he changed his name to simply Patrick Couwenberg after learning that someone else was already using the name of Patrick van Couwenberg de Blois Detris Long.

In the Los Angeles area, an impoverished Patrick worked menial jobs, including scrubbing toilets at a college he attended, to pay for an education, which included a degree in physics at California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech).

Then followed two years of service in the U.S. Army, which included 16 months in Vietnam and a Purple Heart.

Resuming civilian life, he attended Loyola Law School, then LaVerne University School of Law where he earned a juris doctorate.

He entered my life in 1997 when he was one of several newly appointed judges to the Los Angeles Superior Court who were scheduled to participate in a formal enrobement ceremony.

As the court’s director of public information, I was charged with getting media coverage for the ceremony. My news release led off with Couwenberg.

The ceremony, and Couwenberg, received scant coverage — until a couple of years later.

That’s when a Los Angeles legal newspaper reporter called me. He had been assigned to do a profile of Couwenberg and had a problem. None of the information in my news release of four years earlier — he still had a copy — checked out.

My stomach clutched. But I had checked everything in advance with Couwenberg, so how could it have been incorrect? Couwenberg had not only confirmed all the information I had received from the ceremony master of ceremonies who had given me a copy of his script, he added more details.

“Oh, it gets better,” he had said about having to work his way through college. That’s when he told me that among his jobs was college janitor whose duties included scrubbing his fellow students’ toilets.

The reporter said that not only did Cal Tech officials say they had no record of him ever being a student, but that he could find no record of his military service, and that when the reporter asked Couwenberg about that, he said was because he served as a covert agent with the CIA during his service, so of course, since that would be classified, the reporter couldn’t find any record.

The upshot was the reporter contacted the California Commission on Judicial Performance, which conducted an inquiry complete with public hearings for which I was subpoenaed to testify — although thankfully wasn’t called.

The special hearing masters concluded that Couwenberg had lied about just about everything. His college degrees, his military service, even working as an undercover spy. He lied to the governor’s judicial appointments secretary about his qualifications.

In August of 2001, the Commission ordered that Couwenberg be removed from the bench, i.e. kicked out of his robe.

Here’s the link to a collection of Los Angeles Times stories chronicling the Couwenberg saga:


So why dredge all of this up now?

Because Couwenberg, who went on to lose his California bar license (PATRICK COUWENBERG – #70507, CURRENT STATUS:  NOT ELIGIBLE TO PRACTICE LAW (NOT ENTITLED)  http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/70507), has become a poster boy of sorts for resume fabricators.

Here’s the headline and opening paragraph of a story last week in the Idaho Business Review:

Getting tough on resume fraud

by Denise McClure
Published: May 21,2013
Patrick Couwenberg was once a Los Angeles Superior Court justice. He had one very large problem: his resume bore very little resemblance to the truth. Every section of his resume contained lies – about his education, military service (a nonexistent Purple Heart), and work experience (a fictitious job as a covert CIA operative). Couwenberg was removed from the bench in 2001 amidst embarrassing public hearings. http://idahobusinessreview.com/2013/05/21/getting-tough-on-resume-fraud/#ixzz2U5Ass5l3

And here’s the link to a 2005 Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law article:

Pathological Lying Revisited http://www.jaapl.org/content/33/3/342.full.pdf

The article begins, “In August 2001, the State of California Commission on Judicial Performance ordered the removal from office of Judge Patrick Couwenberg for making misrepresentations to become a judge, continuing to make misrepresentations while a judge, and deliberately providing false information to the Commission in the course of its investigation.1 The judge had lied at various times to judges, attorneys, a newspaper reporter, and the Commission on Judicial Performance.”

And he got a mention last year in a “Judging the Judges” section of California Lawyer magazine:
“…egregious behavior, like Judge Patrick Couwenberg of Los Angeles County Superior Court, who in 2002 was found to have lied about his judicial credentials and service in combat.” https://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=923320&wt.ad=923320%20%7C%20Judging%20the%20Judges
So what’s Patrick Couwenberg up to these days? Here’s what a little Internet searching turned up:


patrick couwenberg

January 2002 – Present (11 years 5 months)

Patrick Couwenberg, President

Couwenberg & Heene, A Professional Corporation
Geronimo Western Traders, Inc.
The one thing that didn’t happen, which I thought might. Apparently none of the losing sides contested the cases he presided over and ruled on during his four years on the Los Angeles bench.

8 responses to “Out of the Ashes

  1. I do accept as true with all the concepts you have introduced on your
    post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for beginners. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  2. Re: your article about Judge Couwenberg and the comment mentioning that you were surprised that “none of the losing sides contested their cases.” My brother contested, and many times by appeal. Surprisingly, the appeals process did not make a difference, stating that Couwenberg was appointed by Pete Wilson and deemed suitable at the time of appointment. End of reason. Some appeals refused to answer that section entirely. I am writing a book about my brother’s case.

  3. Angela Laskodi

    Double-Crossed is the name of my book and delineates my brother’s tragic story at the hands of Couwenberg, Monguia (public defender), Prosecution, and a corrupt cop. A Witness comes into play. Names have been changed. Book should come out sometime mid 2017.

    • Sounds interesting. Will the author listed as your name or a pen name?

      • Angela Laskodi

        Using a pen name; at this point, it will be JJ Skillings. Did you know that Judge Couwenberg changed his name due to all the hype surrounding his removal from bench?

  4. Angela Laskodi

    Pen name will be used: JJ Skillings. Did you know that Couwenberg changed his last name due to all the hype surrounding his removal from bench?

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