Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Kriegler, Rothschild and Willhite Are Confirmed, Sworn in as Justices of District’s Court of Appeal
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Sandy Kriegler, Frances Rothschild and Thomas Willhite were confirmed and sworn in yesterday to fill vacancies on this district’s Court of Appeal.
The three were elevated from the Los Angeles Superior Court, and are the first new justices named to the court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Kriegler was chosen to replace Justice Margaret Grignon in Div. Five. Rothschild is to replace Justice Reuben Ortega in Div. One, while Willhite was selected to fill the seat formerly held by Justice Norman L. Epstein in Div. Four.
The were unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which for nominees to this district’s court consists of Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Chief Justice Ronald M. George, and the senior presiding justice of the district, Joan Dempsey Klein of Div. Three.
Lockyer did not attend, but voted for all of the nominees by proxy.
Willhite, 50, was rated “exceptionally well qualified,” the highest possible rating, by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. He was named to the Superior Court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1997 and has presided over a fast track court since 2001.
He served on assignment in this district’s Court of Appeal from January to October 2001. His best-known opinion during that time may be the one in which he and the panel concluded that Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.’s former lover could, contrary to the trial judge’s conclusion, sue the prominent lawyer for “lifetime” support.
Before that he was assigned to a felony trial court where he handled criminal cases.
At the time Wilson named him to the Superior Court, he was a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge, having been appointed to that court in 1990 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian.
Before being named to the bench, Willhite spent a decade as a deputy attorney general in Los Angeles, serving from 1988 to 1990 as coordinator in that office for all regional death penalty cases.
He earned his law degree from Loyola Law School and his undergraduate degree from UCLA.
Kriegler, 54, also received the JNE panel’s highest rating. He has been a Superior Court judge since 1989 and is currently sitting on assignment in this district’s Court of Appeal.
He was named to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by Deukmejian in 1985 and elevated by Deukmejian four years later.
Like Willhite, Kreigler is a former deputy attorney general, having served in that office from 1975 to 1985. During his last four years there he prosecuted organized crime cases.
Kriegler also earned his law degree at Loyola. His undergraduate degree came from Cal State Northridge.
Kriegler sat for 10 years in Van Nuys before being appointed to the Appellate Division in 1999. He returned the Van Nuys court as supervising judge in October 2002.
He also sat on assignment in Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal in 1999 and has been sitting on assignment this year as well.
Rothschild, 63, was rated “well qualified” by the JNE Commission She was named to the Superior Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1978. She also was a Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge at the time of her appointment, having been named to that court by Brown three years earlier.
She came to the bench from a private law practice specializing in labor law and other civil litigation. In 1983 she told a local legal newspaper that she attributed her appointment to the bench to being in the right place at the right time, having represented Brown in a lawsuit when he was secretary of state.
She also served as senior counsel for the state university and college system and clerked for Shirley Hufstedler when the future U.S. secretary of education was a justice of this district’s Court of Appeal.
Rothschild earned her law and undergraduate degrees at UCLA. She was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 8 years old.
The family initially settled in Brooklyn and she attended Rutgers University before transferring to UCLA.
There is one remaining vacancy, resulting from the April 1 retirement of Justice Michael Nott of Div. Two. Nott, however, has been designated to sit as an assigned justice through the end of May.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company