Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Fujie to Chair Judicial Selection Group for Feinstein
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Sen. Dianne Feinstein yesterday named State Bar President Holly J. Fujie to chair a committee that will screen potential federal judicial nominees in the Central District of California.
Feinstein’s office released the first details on the process that will be used to recommend candidates for appointment as district judges, U.S. attorneys, and U.S. marshals in the four districts of California during the Obama administration.
When Bill Clinton was president, Feinstein and fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer used separate screening committees and alternated recommendations for district judgeships, while each senator recommended U.S. attorneys for two of the districts and marshals for the other two.
When George W. Bush captured the presidency, the senators and Gerald Parsky, the chairman of Bush’s California campaign, agreed on a bipartisan committee to recommend district judges, which will fade into oblivion with the return of a Democrat to the White House and the election of a large Democratic majority in the Senate. Parsky oversaw the process of recommending U.S. attorneys and marshals, assisted by Beverly Hills attorney Eric George.
Boxer has not yet announced details as to the selection process she will employ for recommending persons to fill the positions.
Fujie, who served on Feinstein’s committee during the Clinton years and on the bipartisan committee during the current administration, said she had accepted the post because “one of the most important things you can do is to find great candidates for federal judge and U.S. attorney.”
She noted that the committee—which also includes retired U.S. District Judge Lourdes G. Baird, retired Court of Appeal Justice Elwood Lui, and attorneys Yolanda Orozco and Bart Williams—is diverse in terms of party affiliation, ethnicity, and gender and said the committee will work to assure that the applicant pool is also.
“We are looking for the very best people,” Fujie explained. “I am proud that the senator has never given any instructions other than ‘Get the best possible people.’ It’s not political. It’s not about who you know.”
Fujie, Orozco, and Williams are Democrats; Baird and Lui are Republicans. Fujie and Lui are of Asian ancestry, Orozco and Baird are Hispanic, and Williams is African American.
Fujie is a commercial litigator and partner at Buchalter Nemer Fields and Young. Lui and Orozco are both partners at Jones Day, Baird is an arbitrator and mediator at JAMS, and Williams is a partner at at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he served as co-managing partner from 2005 through 2007.
While there is no timetable for making recommendations—the district will have three judicial vacancies when Judge Alicemarie Stotler takes senior status next week—Fujie noted that the new committee is getting an earlier start than its predecessors.
Statewide, Feinstein’s office said, the process will be overseen by San Diego attorney David Casey Jr., a former president of the American Trial Lawyers Association, now the American Association for Justice.
The Eastern District Committee is headed by Sacramento attorney Nancy Miller, the chief counsel for Sacramento and San Joaquin counties and other local government entities, and includes Fresno lawyer Lowell T. Carruth, a former president of the Association of Defense Counsel for Northern California; William Hahesy of Fresno, a former assistant U.S. attorney who currently practices criminal defense and complex civil litigation; Fredricka McGee, who served as legal counsel to California Assembly Speakers Fabian Nuñez and Antonoio Villaraigosa; and Charles J. Stevens, a former U.S. attorney for the district.
Former San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne, now a partner in a San Francisco firm specializing in public law, will chair the Northern District Committee. Renne is a longtime political ally of Feinstein, and lost a U.S. House primary to Boxer a quarter-century ago.
She is also a former president of California Women Lawyers.
Other members of the committee are California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet; Robert Feldman, a Redwood City lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney; former State Bar President Raymond Marshall of San Francisco; and retired U.S. District Judge Fern Smith, who is now with JAMS.
The Southern District chair is former San Diego County Bar Association President David Noonan. Other members are Alan Brubaker, president-elect of the California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates; business litigator Nadia Bermudez; San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who is president of the California District Attorneys Association and a State Bar Board of Governors member; and Beatrice Kemp, general counsel of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation and a past director of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company