Friday, January 23, 2009
Schwarzenegger Appoints Seven New Judges to Superior Court
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday announced the appointment of 14 new superior court judges in seven counties, including the appointment of seven to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Filling local vacancies created by six retirements and one death, Schwarzenegger tapped Superior Court Commissioners Victor H. Greenberg and Maren E. Nelson; Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Geanene Yriarte; Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Terrell; and Los Angeles attorneys Huey P. Cotton, David S. Cunningham III and Howard L. Halm for seats on the bench.
The governor’s moves drew criticism from the chairman of the Los Angeles County chapter of the California Republican Lawyers Association, Adam Abrahms of Proskauer Rose, over the fact that all but three of the 14 appointees are Democrats, including six of those joining the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Abrahms, who was involved in a 2006 effort to push Schwarzenegger to appoint more GOP members to judgeships, said it was “completely unprecedented” for the governor to have made so many opposing party appointments during his time in office. He accused the governor of “political horse trading” and abandoning his principles “to curry favor with his friends in Sacramento.”
A spokesperson for the governor disputed Abrahms’ assertions, emphasizing that “the governor appoints who he feels is most qualified to serve on the bench,” and noting that over half of Schwarzenegger’s judicial appointments have been Republicans.
She said Schwarzenegger has now appointed 401 judges to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and superior courts, with 51 percent identifying themselves as Republicans, 40 percent as Democrats, and nine percent declining to state a party affiliation.
Abrahms did not offer specific criticism of the appointees to the Los Angeles Superior Court, explaining that he was “sure they are good lawyers: LA is full of good lawyers.” He added, however, that the selections “unfortunately don’t show commitment to the principles the governor was elected on, to value victims over criminals.”
Glen Forsch, chair of the Los Angeles County Republican Party, declined comment, saying he was not familiar with the appointees individually, while Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, a Republican, said only that he “would like to see a balance in appointments.”
Greenberg, 48, became a commissioner in 2000 after spending five years as the Children’s Services Inspector General for Los Angeles County. He graduated from UC Berkley and UC Hastings College of the Law before admission to the State Bar in 1986, and he represented the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for the following nine years.
A Democrat, Greenberg fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael R. Hoff.
Nelson, 52, became a commissioner in 2004 after seven years as an associate, then partner, with Morrison & Foerster, and six years as an associate at Overton, Lyman & Prince. A graduate of Occidental College and the USC School of Law, she is a Democrat and fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge Deanne Smith Myers.
Yriarte, 39, has served in her current position since 1997, when she was admitted to the State Bar after having graduated from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Loyola Law School. The only Republican appointed yesterday to the Los Angeles Superior Court, she fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alexander H. Williams.
Terrell, 51, has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California since 1991, and attended Yale University and Stanford Law School.
Admitted to the State Bar in 1984, he was an associate with Reich, Adell & Crost from 1983 to 1985, and with Rosen, Wachtell & Gilbert for the following six years. Terrell is a Democrat, and he fills the position created by the retirement of Judge Ray Hart.
Cotton, 52, is a shareholder with Cozen O’Connor, and comes to the bench after 21 years with the firm, first as an associate and then partner before becoming a shareholder in 2001.
He attended college at Amherst College and law school at Temple University before being admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania in 1982, and served as a staff attorney for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights before becoming senior trial attorney for the Defenders Association of Philadelphia the following year.
Admitted to the State Bar of California in 1988, Cotton is a Democrat, and he fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David Horwitz.
Cunningham, 53, has served as a principal at Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson since 2007, and for two years before that as a partner at Kelly Lytton & Vann.
He was admitted to the State Bar in 1983 after attending college at USC and law school at New York University, and he began his career as a judicial clerk for U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. of the Central District of California.
Cunningham joined the Beverly Hills office of Finley Kumble in 1984 as an associate, and five years later became a sole practitioner before joining Jackson and Lewis as of counsel in 2005. A Democrat, he fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Xenophon F. Lang.
Halm, 66, has worked as an equity partner for Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker since 2000, and graduated from USC and the University of San Diego School of Law before admission to the State Bar in 1969.
He served the first six years of his career as a deputy attorney general for the California Department of Justice, and in 1975 joined Breidenbach, Buckley, Huchting, Halm & Hamblet, rising from associate to partner and then shareholder in his 25 years with the firm. A Democrat, Halm fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Leon S. Kaplan.
The compensation for each position is $178,789.
Schwarzenegger also made the following judicial appointments:
•Merced attorney Donald J. Proietti, a Democrat, to the Merced Superior Court;
•South Pasadena attorney Christopher B. Marshall, a Democrat, to the San Bernardino Superior Court;
•San Diego attorney Ronald F. Frazier and San Diego Superior Court Commissioner Tamila E. Ipema—who served as a commissioner on the Los Angeles Superior Court until April of last year—to the San Diego Superior Court. Both Frazier and Ipema are Democrats;
•San Francisco attorney Bruce E. Chan, a Democrat, to the San Francisco Superior Court;
•Morgan Hill attorney Beth A.R. McGowen, a Republican, to the Santa Clara Superior Court;
•Sutter County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Susan E. Green, a Republican, to the Sutter County Superior Court.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company