Friday, April 30, 2004
Schiavelli Nomination Clears Judiciary Committee
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The nomination of former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George P. Schiavelli to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California was approved yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A spokesperson for the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Schiavelli was among three district court nominees whose names were sent to the full Senate on voice votes. The committee also approved one circuit court nominee and delayed action on another.
Schiavelli, 55, was recommended by the bipartisan committee that reviews potential district judges throughout the state just two months after applying. He would succeed Judge Lourdes Baird, who is taking senior status in two weeks.
“It’s obviously very exciting,” Schiavelli, 55, told the MetNews yesterday.
Schiavelli served on the Superior Court from 1994—when he was appointed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson—until July 2000, when he joined the firm of Crosby Heafey Roach & May. The firm later merged into Reed Smith, a firm with a major presence on the East Coast.
When he left the state court, Schiavelli was in his second year as presiding judge of the Appellate Division, to which he was assigned in 1997 by Chief Justice Ronald M. George. He said at the time that he was sad to leave the bench, but was compelled to do so because of an illness in the family.
Schiavelli was born in Florida but his family moved to the Los Angeles area when he was about five years old. He attended Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley, earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford University and received his law degree in 1974 from UCLA.
He played football at Stanford, where he was a teammate of Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett, graduating in 1970. In law school, he gave up a seat on the law review to participate in the moot court honors program.
Much of his legal career has been devoted to appellate work. After a stint at O’Melveny & Myers, he became a partner at Ervin, Cohen & Jessup and later at Horvitz & Levy, where he was working at the time Wilson tapped him for the bench.
He is a past president of the Italian American Lawyers Association and served from 1980 to 1982 on the Board of Governors of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.
The other district court nominees to clear the committee yesterday were Robert Bryan Harwell of South Carolina and Curtis Gomez of the Virgin Islands. Missouri Supreme Court Justice William D. Benton was approved for the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 19-0 vote, while the nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Henry Saad to the Sixth Circuit was delayed.
The committee has postponed voting on Saad several times since holding a confirmation hearing last fall over the objections of U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both Michigan Democrats.
Levin and Stabenow were angered because former Michigan Sen. Spencer Abraham, a Republican now serving as U.S. secretary of energy, blocked hearings on two of President Clinton’s nominees, including one judge who waited more than four years for a hearing.
Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Levin have said they are trying to work out a compromise, but neither has released any details. There have been suggestions that the impasse—which also affects three other appellate and two district court nominees from the state—could be resolved if the White House were willing either to create a bipartisan committee in Michigan similar to the one that chose Schiavelli, or to pick candidates backed by Levin and Stabenow for some of the slots.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company