Monday. March 19, 2007
Superior Court Judge Otis D. Wright II Confirmed to U.S. District Court for Central District of California
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Otis D. Wright II has been confirmed as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The U.S. Senate Thursday confirmed the 62-year-old jurist by a unanimous voice vote.
“Judge Wright’s story has been a march toward the American dream,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told the Senate during brief debate, according to the Congress Record. “As an African American born in Tuskegee, AL, Judge Wright rose above the travails and barriers posed by a Jim Crow segregated society to serve his country as a U.S. marine, a deputy sheriff in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a State government attorney, a partner at a Los Angeles law firm, and a judge on the State bench. Today this great American story includes confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the Federal bench.”
Leahy also took the occasion to blast the Bush administration’s diversity record, noting that the current president has appointed only 18 African American judges, compared to 53 for his predecessor. When sworn in, Leahy said, Wright will be one of 90 black members of the federal bench.
Race was a factor in Wright’s decision to seek the appointment, he told the MetNews last year.
“For people who look like me, it’s very cool to have seen Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice being Secretary of State,” he commented. “...If I’m given the opportunity to be an example . . . I’ve got to do it.”
In a more recent interview, he spoke of being awestruck at the process, noting that he had never been to Washington, D.C. before becoming a candidate for the federal bench.
Wright is a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles and Southwestern University School of Law. He served as a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy for 11 years prior to becoming a deputy attorney general, and was a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker from 1993 until his appointment to the Superior Court in November 2005.
A civil litigator for two decades, his brief tenure as a judge has been mainly doing criminal cases. He currently presides over drug dependency court in Long Beach.
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 will fill the vacancy created when Judge Gary L. Taylor took senior status on Dec. 8, 2004. His confirmation leaves the court with two vacancies.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George H. Wu, who was approved by the Judiciary Committee on March 1, the same day as Wright, would succeed Judge Ronald S.W. Lew, who took senior status last September.
Orange Superior Court James Rogan, a former congressman, has been nominated to succeed Judge Nora Manella, who left the court in May of last year to join this district’s Court of Appeal.
The Senate Thursday also confirmed two other judicial nominees.
Thomas Hardiman, a U.S. district judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, was backed 95-0 for a seat on the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. John Preston Bailey, a Wheeling attorney and former state bar president, was confirmed by voice vote to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company