Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Stotler, Others Pay Tribute to Departing Judge Schiavelli
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Chief Judge Alicemarie Stotler of the Central District of California praised U.S. District Judge George Schiavelli and expressed sorrow yesterday at his imminent departure from the court.
Schiavelli, who has had physical difficulties since an escalator mishap three years ago, notified his colleagues over the weekend that he plans to step down at the end of this month. He confirmed those plans to the MetNews on Friday.
“We are sorry to lose Judge Schiavelli from our federal court family,” Stotler said. “His multifaceted background has brought insight and understanding to a complex caseload. He has been a real asset to our court. Even after difficult surgery, Judge Schiavelli has been a tireless worker. His wisdom and good humor will be greatly missed.”
The onetime Stanford University football player has been working fulltime since returning to the court earlier this year following a full knee replacement, which he has described as successful. But he said he faces replacement of the other knee, as well as additional surgeries.
He is expected to go into private judging, but said Friday he has not finalized his future plans.
Schiavelli served on the Los Angeles Superior Court from 1994 to 2000—he was presiding judge of the Appellate Division prior to his departure—and was appointed to the federal bench four years ago by President Bush.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, who served with Schiavelli on both courts, said the court would miss his colleague, whom he described as “a person of exceptional character and possessed of both a gracious demeanor and a superior intellect.”
The judge also praised Schiavelli’s “genuine concern and commitment to his family,” noting that he left the Superior Court eight years to pay his mother’s medical bills after she became seriously ill.
“I recall talking to George about his decision to resign from the court and sensing the tremendous disappointment he felt having to leave the office he loved,” Otero said. “Unfortunately, George has to again leave the office he loves for family and personal reasons. He will be missed by all on our court. It is a sad day for our district.”
James Turken, a partner in the Dickstein Shapiro law firm and “close and dear friend” of Schiavelli for 25 years, noted that despite his busy professional life, the judge has “always devoted significant time and effort to outside activities to assist the next generation of attorneys,” serving as a moot court judge and mentor to students and young lawyers.
Tributes to Schiavelli were received yesterday from other judges and lawyers:
•“I had the pleasure to serve with George in the downtown court(CCB) for about 7 years. He is a good friend and was very helpful to me as a colleague. George is the kind of judge that you go to for an answer to a legal situation. He was collegial, pleasant and accessible. In George you knew that you had a friend not just on the bench but for life. I feel terrible about his accident and the way it has changed his life but I know that George possesses the strength and durability to overcome this adversity. My best wishes to him and his family for a happy and joyful retirement....
—Superior Court Judge James Kaddo
•“The bench was Judge Schiavelli’s dream. I know how hard this decision has been for him, and I am sure the federal bench will miss him. He was a wonderful colleague on the Superior Court — smart and fair, in short, a judge’s judge.”
—Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr
•“The United States District Court will lose one of its finest judges. It was a great privilege to work with Judge Schiavelli on the Superior Court. Judge Schiavelli is an excellent judge and a great colleague and friend.”
—Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy
•“It has been my good fortune to have known Judge George Schiavelli as a lawyer, state judge and federal judge for two decades. His brilliance and scholarship on the bench will be sorely missed, but there is no doubt that his excellence will continue no matter what he chooses to do in the future.”
—Retired Superior Court Judge Howard J. Schwab
•“Judge Schiavelli is a wise and learned judge, a brilliant lawyer, a thoughtful mentor and counselor and an all around good guy. His early retirement is a great loss to the federal bench and the community should be grateful for the years he has given as a State and Federal Judge.”
—Former District Attorney Robert H. Philibosian, now of counsel to Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
•“I had the privilege of observing Judge Schiavelli while he was still a lawyer. He was knowledgeable, articulate and quite personable. We were delighted when he jointed our bench.
“During my stint in Administration, I was personally very disappointed when he found it necessary to leave our court. He was a forceful, able judge with a bright future....The Federal court is losing him too soon but whatever he chooses, I am sure he will do well.”
—Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez, a former presiding judge of the court
•“In addition to playing football, George was a mighty fine miler in his prime. It’s a shame that fate hasn’t been kinder to him physically. He is universally respected by the bench and bar for his many fine attributes, including his intellect, his fairness, and his humor....”
—Superior Court Judge Michael Solner
•“Judge George Schiavelli’s impending retirement from the bench truly generates much sadness. More than just another judicial vacancy, this retirement creates a real void. George always wanted to be a jurist and worked steadfastly to perfect his contribution to the judiciary....He is the mold from which all judges should be duplicated. Moreover, whether on or off the bench, George is a wonderful person with whom any time spent is worthwhile and, given his sense of humor, entertaining.”
—Douglas J. Collodel, attorney with Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP
•“I’ve appeared before Judge Schiavelli and I’ve sought his insight as an appellate attorney. We were back to back presidents of the Italian American Lawyers and I have been on the receiving end of his wit....I hope George continues to participate in the Southern California legal community — we need him.”
—Carey Caruso, Beverly Hills sole practitioner
•“George is truly a fine human being who as a friend will be deeply missed here at the court and as a legal scholar by the federal bar.”
—U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company