Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Governor Sends Bendix’s Name to JNE Commission
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has sent Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Helen I. Bendix’s name to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation as a possible appointee to the Court of Appeal, the judge confirmed yesterday.
Bendix, 56, told the MetNews she learned the governor had asked the commission for its evaluation of her while she was at a conference in Hawaii for the California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates last month and was “very excited” by the news, but noted the move was “not an appointment” to one of the six vacancies expected on the court by the end of this year.
The commission is charged by Government Code Sec. 12011.5 with conducting confidential evaluations of all persons whose names have been submitted to it by the governor as potential judicial appointees. Except in the last 90 days of a term, the governor cannot name any person as a judge unless they have been evaluated by the commission or unless it has failed to complete an evaluation within 90 days of submission of the person’s name.
Bendix, who was appointed to the bench in 1997 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson and who currently runs a general jurisdiction civil docket in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, said that she wanted to become a justice because of the variety of legal issues the appellate court faces, the collegiality of deciding a matter as a group and the “privilege” of crafting “well-written, enduring precedent.”
Although she has not sat on appellate cases by assignment, Bendix remarked that she has long had an interest in the development of the law, citing among other things her experience as a law clerk to then-Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler.
She said she told the governor in her application for the post that the wide range of issues faced by what is effectively the court of last resort for most litigants requires justices who have not only integrity and honesty, but also “intellectual curiosity” and “broad experience and empathy with the human condition.”
Noting the court’s role in shaping law for years to come, she further emphasized that justices need to apply the law “in a fair way that gives a precedent to follow.”
A graduate of Cornell University and Yale Law School, Bendix was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1976, and is also admitted to the District of Columbia Bar.
After clerking for Hufstedler, she became an associate with Washington, D.C. firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in 1978, before becoming an associate in 1980 with Leva Hawes, Symington, Martin & Oppenheimer, where she later became partner.
Six years later, Bendix became of counsel to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in its Washington office, and then joined Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe’s office in Century City in 1989, where she remained until becoming senior vice president and general counsel of KCET, Community Television of Southern California, in 1996.
She currently serves as chair of the Superior Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, and has previously served as a law professor at UCLA and as an adjunct professor of Japanese law for American University Law School in Washington, D.C.
Bendix is also currently principal violist in the Palisades Symphony Orchestra, and is married to Cornell classmate and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt, who joined the bench in 2002. They have three children.
Four seats on the Court of Appeal are currently vacant, and two more are expected to open when Justice Douglas E. Swager of the First District’s Div. One and Presiding Justice Candace Cooper of this district’s Div. Eight retire at the end of this year.
Two vacancies were created in the First District by the retirements of Justice William Stein from Div. One in August, and Justice Linda M. Gemello from Div. Five last January. One vacancy was created in this district’s Div. One in July with the retirement of Justice Miriam Vogel, and another was created in the Fifth District upon the death of Justice Thomas Harris last month.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company