Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Newest Court of Appeal Justice to Take Office Next Month
By a MetNews Staff Writer
U.S. District Judge Nora Manella will take up her seat on this district’s Court of Appeal May 22, the MetNews learned yesterday.
Manella was confirmed Monday by the Commission on Judicial Appointments as a member of the Court of Appeal’s Div. Four. She was rated exceptionally well qualified for the position by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, the highest rating that the commission gives.
Court of Appeal justices normally take office immediately upon being confirmed. When Superior Court judges are elevated, they are typically given temporary assignments to the Superior Court in order to finish up any pending cases.
That is not possible in the rare case of a federal judge moving to a state court since a judge cannot serve simultaneously in both systems. Others who have made the transition include since-retired California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, who sat in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Cynthia Aaron, who was a federal magistrate judge in San Diego when then-Gov. Gray Davis tapped her for her current post.
Only one person, Whittier attorney John Eardley, testified against the nominee.
Eardley said he was mistreated by Manella in connection with a complex dispute involving removal of certain litigation from state court. The judge remanded his case to state court, and ordered his clients to pay attorney fees, without even granting a hearing.
“To her credit,” he acknowledged, the judge recently reversed herself and set a hearing on the matter. He also conceded that Central District judges’ ability to hold hearings is constrained by caseload size, and said he had been told that Manella “has the heaviest caseload down there.”
Eardley also questioned the ethics of judges moving from the federal court to the Court of Appeal, since justices of that court must run in retention elections. Federal judges who apply for state court positions are thus engaged in a political process and should resign in accordance with the ethical canons governing federal judges, he said, although he called that a personal view and said it was not supported by any authority and had not been raised in connection with other such appointments to his knowledge.
He added that he does not intend to raise the issue in any other forum now that Manella has been confirmed.
“I wish her well,” Eardley said. “I hope she turns out to be the best judge on the Second Appellate District.”
Presiding Justice Norman L. Epstein of Div. Four said he was looking forward to having the newest member, whom he has known for years, join the panel.
“She’s just a fine person, and an excellent judge,” he said, noting that she sat as a justice pro tem while on the state bench and pronouncing himself in agreement with the JNE Commission’s assessment of her abilities.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company