Thursday, February 1, 2007
Judge Philip Gutierrez Confirmed to U.S. District Court
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Philip Gutierrez has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Gutierrez, 47, was confirmed late Tuesday by a vote of 97-0 for the seat previously held by Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., who took senior status on April 22, 2005. The jurist was nominated in April of last year by President Bush after being recommended by the bipartisan Federal Judicial Qualifications Committee.
The jurist told the MetNews that he did not know when he will take the bench. He said he has some sentencings to finish before leaving his present post, and must await the issuance of his commission by the Executive Branch.
The delay doesn’t bother him, he commented, because his present position “is a great job.”
He said he applied for the federal bench about 18 months ago because “I love being a trial judge” and being a federal judge is “the greatest job in the world” because it entails trying important cases, both civil and criminal.
He said he had no complaints of any kind about the process, in which his confirmation, along with those of other non-controversial nominees, was delayed while senators fought over other, more contentious choices. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., alluded to that situation in remarks appearing in the Congressional Record for Tuesday.
While congratulating Gutierrez and Lisa Godbey Wood of Georgia, who was also confirmed Tuesday, the senator lamented:
“We spent far too much time engaged in political fights over a handful of nominees in the last Congress, time the Senate could have spent making progress on filling vacancies with qualified consensus nominees.”
Gutierrez said he was grateful for the support he received from a number of individuals who had been “very generous with their time” in guiding him through the process. He cited as an example California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, a former judge of the District Court, who spent an hour and a half on the phone giving him advice, even though the two did not know each other very well.
Gutierrez, a Los Angeles native, is a 1981 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and graduated from UCLA Law School in 1984. He practiced with the firm of Kern & Wooley from 1986 to 1988 before joining Cotkin & Collins, where was a partner when then-Gov. Pete Wilson named him to the Whittier Municipal Court in August 1997.
After hearing civil and criminal cases at the municipal court level, he became a Los Angeles Superior Court judge through unification in 2000 and served as site judge for the Whittier Court. He later spent a year in Norwalk before taking on his current assignment as a felony trial judge in Pomona four years ago.
He has also served on the Superior Court Executive Committee and as chair of the California Judges Association’s Committee on Judicial Ethics, on several committees of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research, and on the boards of the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County and Westside Legal Services.
His appointment leaves four vacancies on the court, although nominations are pending for all of them.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company