Monday, June 28, 2004
George Schiavelli Confirmed by Senate for U.S. District Court
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George P. Schiavelli has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to fill the only vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Senators confirmed the 55-year-old Los Angeles attorney late Thursday night. He was one of seven nominees, only one of whom had any opposition, confirmed Thursday as senators continued with a series of votes required by an agreement reached last month with the White House.
Schiavelli was away from his office at the law firm of Reed Smith Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Chief U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall said she was “very excited” about Schiavelli’s joining the court. “From all I’ve heard he was just an outstanding jurist, and we’re looking forward to having him join us.”
The chief judge added that the court is in a strong position in terms of workload, with no other vacancies and none on the horizon.
The seat Schiavelli is filling, she noted, has only been vacant since May 12, when Judge Lourdes G. Baird took senior status. President Bush nominated Schiavelli in January in anticipation of the vacancy.
Marshall said she did not yet know when Schiavelli will be joining the court. He had previously told the MetNews that most of his work at Reed Smith involves alternative dispute resolution and can be wrapped up quickly.
Schiavelli was recommended by the bipartisan committee that reviews potential district judges throughout the state just two months after applying.
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. That firm later merged into Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith.
When he left the court, he 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.
Also confirmed Thursday were former state trial judge Dora L. Irizarry as a district judge for the Eastern District of New York, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane S. Sykes to be a judge of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Attorney Peter W. Hall of Vermont to be a Second Circuit judge, Missouri Supreme Court Justice William Duane Benton to a seat on the Eighth Circuit, and Florence, S.C. attorney Robert Bryan Harwell to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
The only one of the group to draw opposition was Sykes, who was confirmed by a 70-27 vote. Some Democrats accused her of evading questions about her judicial philosophy, and both of California’s senators voted against her.
The White House and the Senate agreed last month to complete votes on 25 judicial nominees, including those approved Thursday, before the congressional summer recess. The president, who had earlier given recess appointments to two appeals court judges opposed by Democrats, agreed that there would be no more such appointments this term.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company