Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Page 1


Governor Names Six to Fill Los Angeles Superior Court Vacancies


By Kenneth Ofgang, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday named seven judges to fill longstanding vacancies on the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Tapped for the positions were Superior Court Commissioners Martha Bellinger and Roger Ito, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence Cho and Beverly Reed O’Connell, Deputy County Counsel Dalila Corral, and veteran litigator Rex Heeseman.

Cho, 42, said he learned of the appointment while on a plane returning from meetings in Florida. He was, until just a few days ago, deputy chief of the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section in Washington, D.C.

He applied for a judgeship about a year ago, he told the MetNews, because he “wanted to continue with public service,” but “on a different plane than what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years” as a prosecutor.

Loyola Adjunct Professor

Before going to Washington, he was chief of the Terrorism and Organized Crime Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office here. He was also an adjunct professor for trial advocacy at Loyola Law School from 1997 to 2003.

Cho practiced civil litigation with the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore from 1988 to 1990 and was a law clerk for Chief U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of the  Central District of California from 1987 to 1988.

Real was a great role model, the attorney said, although Cho added that he was far too green at the time to even think that he could himself be a judge someday. The jurist, who is sometimes described as prickly, was “all-business” on the bench, a hard worker who carefully reviewed the submissions before ruling, and a “very good mentor,” Cho said.

Cho earned his undergraduate degree from Rutgers College and his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, N.J. He fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge Alan Buckner.

Pomona Assignment

Bellinger, 55, has served as a family law and juvenile court commissioner since 1991, currently sitting in Pomona. She has also taught as an adjunct professor of law at La Verne University College of Law since 1988.

Bellinger was a deputy district attorney from 1984 to 1991. Her prior experience included service as assistant legal counsel for Pomona Unified School District, a probation officer in upstate New York, and a minister in the United Methodist Church.

A graduate of Whittier College School of Law, she holds an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and master’s degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Boston University School of Theology. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Harris.

Corral, 47, has served in the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office since 1990. As principal deputy county counsel, she has represented the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as its chief legal advisor since 1997.

Corral was previously an associate with the law firm of Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman from 1987 to 1990 and an associate with the firm of Pettit & Martin from 1984 to 1987. She earned her law degree from Boalt Hall School and her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California.

She fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge L. Jeffrey Wiatt.

Corral said she was “thrilled and very honored” to receive the appointment and hopes to be sworn in in the next couple of weeks.

Heeseman, 62, of Pasadena, has practiced civil litigation for over 33 years. He has been a partner in the Los Angeles office for the law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps since 1994 and was the managing partner of the firm’s Los Angeles office from the time he joined the firm until January 2000.

Onetime Federal Prosecutor

Heeseman also teaches as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School.  He was previously an associate and partner with the firm of Adams, Duque & Hazeltine from 1975 to 1994 and an assistant and special assistant United States Attorney from 1971 to 1975.

Heeseman, who holds a law degree from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College, is a former attorney member of California’s Judicial Council and a former County Bar trustee who was editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Bar Journal.

He fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge C. Robert Simpson Jr.

Heeseman said that he had long considered applying for the bench, and had reached a senior level in law practice that convinced him the time had come to do it. He added that he had learned a great deal by meeting judges through his bar activities and particularly while serving on the Judicial Council.

Ito, 41, has served as a commissioner since 2002. He was previously a deputy district attorney from 1995 to 2002, a Los Angeles deputy city attorney from 1991 to 1995, and an associate with the law firm of Burke, Williams & Sorenson from 1989 to 1991.

He earned his law degree from Loyola and bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego.

O’Connell, 40, of Pasadena, has served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 1995. She has been a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Organized Crime and Terrorism Section since 2003.

O’Connell has also served as an adjunct professor for Pepperdine University School of Law since 1998 and Loyola Law School since 1999, teaching trial advocacy. . From 1990 to 1995, she practiced civil litigation while an associate with Morrison & Foerster.

O’Connell earned her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law and bachelor’s degree from UCLA.. She is currently first vice-president of Women Lawyers of Los Angeles.

She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thomas Stoever. O’Connell is a Democrat.

The appointments come from across the political spectrum. Bellinger, Corral, O’Connell, and Ito are Democrats; Heeseman is a Republican; and Cho is registered decline-to-state.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company