Thursday, September 7, 2006
Bush Nominates Judges to Central District
By a MetNews Staff Writer
President George W. Bush has nominated Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Otis D. Wright II and George H. Wu to judgeships on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge William A. MacLaughin told the MetNews he was not surprised by the nominations, announced by the White House Tuesday.
“We’re very sorry to lose them but are absolutely delighted and these are two very outstanding choices,” he said. “They really are both very excellent choices.”
Wright told the MetNews that he received a telephone call from the Office of White House Counsel Friday informing him of his nomination. Nonetheless, he said, “My wife still expects me to take out the trash.”
Named to the Superior Court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last November, Wright said he hasn’t even had time to move personal effects into his chambers.
He said that he now enjoys his job “immensely,” but during his first couple of days he was “petrified” hearing criminal matters after over twenty years of doing civil litigation.
“But,” he added, “the lawyers were first-class people and really helped me a lot.”
Wright, who presides over drug dependency court in Long Beach, said, “I get to change lives, one life at a time.” In fact, if it were only about him, Wright said, he would stay where he is.
But, he explained, it’s not just about him.
“For people who look like me, it’s very cool to have seen Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice being Secretary of State. . . . If I’m given the opportunity to be an example . . . I’ve got to do it.”
When asked why he thinks he was chosen after his limited time on the bench, Wright responded, “I don’t have a clue. . . . I couldn’t be more average.”
Wright said his life changed after he altered his plans at the last minute on September 11, 2001, and did not take one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
“I’ve been given extra time to do something,” he said. “If I can be a role model, great.”
Wright graduated from California State University at Los Angeles and Southwestern University School of Law. He served as a Los Angeles County sheriff deputy for 11 years prior to becoming a deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice.
He was a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker from 1993 until his appointment to the bench.
Wu, whose courtroom is in Los Angeles, told the MetNews he found out about his nomination Tuesday and was surprised and gratified. Named by then-Gov. Pete Wilson to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1993, and the Superior Court in 1996, Wu said he will miss being on the Superior Court, which he called a “fantastic job.”
He said he’s thankful he has experience before moving to the Central District.
“I really do think you need experience to get a sense of who you are and a sense of yourself as a judge,” he said. Plus, he added, everybody makes mistakes and you don’t want to make them in such a high profile position.
Wu graduated from Pomona College in Claremont in 1972 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1975. He was an associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae in Los Angeles from 1989 to 1991. He served as an assistant division chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles from 1991 to 1993.
If confirmed by the Senate, Wright will fill the vacancy created when Judge Gary L. Taylor took senior status on Dec. 8, 2004, and Wu will fill a vacancy expected from Judge Ronald S.W. Lew’s announcement that he will take senior status on Sept. 19.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company