Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, July 11, 2008


Page 4


Ninth Circuit to Honor Superior Court Judge Chirlin, Local Attorney Warren


By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer


The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will honor Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Judith C. Chirlin and attorney Robert S. Warren, a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, at the upcoming Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, the court announced yesterday.

Chirlin has been selected to receive the American Inns of Court Foundation’s Ninth Circuit Professionalism Award during the opening session of the conference July 28, 2008, in Sun Valley, Idaho, while Warren has been selected to receive the Ninth Circuit’s John P. Frank Award.

The Ninth Circuit Professionalism Award is presented to a lawyer or judge whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law.

Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Deanell Reece Tacha, immediate past president of the American Inns of Court Foundation, will present the award.

Tacha called Chirlin a “remarkable example of professionalism and service,” praising her work in the international legal field and emerging democracies. 

A 23-year veteran of the bench and extensive traveler, Chirlin has taught, lectured and mentored judges in Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and the Middle East.

Tim Reuben of Reuben Raucher & Blum and President of the Southern California Business Litigation Inn of Court nominated Chirlin for the award.

“There is no person more deserving than Judy Chirlin,” he said. “I’m her biggest fan.”

Reuben also cited Chirlin’s overseas efforts as a “perfect example” of her commitment to the law.

“She has literally put her life at risk in her efforts,” he said, referring to an incident in 2003 when the jurist narrowly escaped the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq.

Despite her narrow escape from Iraq, Chirlin returned to Istanbul in 2006 to teach a class for the first group of women admitted to the Iraqi legal training institute since the 1970’s.

 “It’s pretty amazing stuff that I’ve had the opportunity to do…,” Chirlin said. “I feel very lucky to have had the career that I’ve had.”

This sense of good fortune, she continued, motivates her to continue her global efforts.

“I feel like people who are as lucky as I am have an obligation to give back,” she said.

For Chirlin, another way of “giving back” domestically is participating in professional associations. Chirlin is a past chair of the CEELI (Central and East European Law Initiative) Advisory Board for the American Bar Association, and a past chair of the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society.

Chirlin told the MetNews that she was “thrilled” to receive the award. Although she said it was “pretty cool” to receive a national award from a nationwide organization, she added that it was “particularly meaningful” to receive the award from the American Inns of Court because she was “kind of there” when the organization was founded.

She explained that while working as a judicial fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court from 1977 until 1978, for then-Chief Justice Warren Berger, one of her jobs was reading the letters the former chief justice received in response to a speech he gave the prior year.

That speech, she said, “in essence, was saying that lawyers in the U.S. were not as capable as lawyers in England because of the training [English] lawyers get through the Inns of Court,” and the letters in response, came in three basic forms:

“They either said, ‘I disagree with you, how dare you malign our wonderful profession,’ or ‘I disagree you’ve because underestimated the number of incompetent lawyers,’ or ‘I disagree with you because you forgot to mention the incompetent judges.’”

But, Chirlin said, as a result of this “uproar,” a group of attorneys and judges got together and formed the American Inns of Court. Chirlin became one of the earliest members, joining the William J. Rea American Inn of Court and the William P. Gray Legion Lex American Inn of Court. She is currently a counselor and an active Master of the Bench of the Southern California Business Litigation American Inn of Court.

The jurist received her B.A. in 1969 from George Washington University, an M.A. in 1970 from Rutgers University, and her J.D. in 1974 from USC Law School, where she served on the law review editorial board. After more than 10 years in private practice, she was appointed to the state court bench by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1985.

The John Frank Award, being presented to Warren, recognizes a lawyer who has “demonstrated outstanding character and integrity; dedication to the rule of law; proficiency as a trial and appellate lawyer; success in promoting collegiality among members of the bench and bar; and a lifetime of service to the federal courts of the Ninth Circuit” according to court.

The award was established in 2003 by the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit in memory of the late John P. Frank of Arizona, a distinguished attorney, author, law professor, civil liberties advocate and legal historian. The award will be presented by Meryl L. Young, chair of the Ninth Circuit Advisory Board and a partner at Gibson Dunn.

Young said she was honored to present the award Warren because he had encouraged her to become involved in the Ninth Circuit herself. 

Warren said it was a “great pleasure” to receive an award named after Frank, with whom he had worked to advocate against preventing the circuit’s split.

The veteran litigator joined Gibson Dunn in 1956, the year he graduated from the USC Law School, where he was associate editor of the law review and a member of the Order of the Coif. He also earned his B.A. at USC, graduating in 1953.

He has been a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1974 and is a former chair of that group. He also formerly served on the board of the Institute of Corporate Counsel; is a member of the California Supreme Court Historical Society, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society and the USC Law School Board of Councilors; and is a former officer of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation, and a former lawyer delegate to prior Ninth Circuit judicial conferences.

Colleagues also had high praise for Warren. Gail E. Lees, a partner at Gibson Dunn, called him the “go-to lawyer for the thorniest ethical questions.” While, another Gibson Dunn partner, Bob Loewen said he had “never met a better lawyer.”


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company