Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, June 12, 2009


Page 1


Governor Names Chaney, Johnson to C.A.




Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday nominated Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey W. Johnson of the Central District of California to Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal.

He also named three Northern California judges to seats on the First District Court of Appeal and filled superior court vacancies in San Francisco, Fresno and Yolo counties.

Chaney, 63, has served on the Superior Court since 1994 and was a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge from 1990 to 1994.

She began her legal career in 1976 at Dryden Harrington & Schwartz handling tort litigation, insurance coverage disputes, and some business litigation. She was a Los Angeles deputy city attorney, prosecuting misdemeanors, from 1979 to 1980 before moving to the civil side.

She took a leave from the office to work as a civil litigation associate at Veatch, Carlson, Grogan & Nelson in 1982 and 1983, then returned to the city as an assistant city attorney in the Civil Liability Section. Her duties there included defense of police officers in civil rights and other litigation in state and federal courts, as well as other types of tort litigation, and she was one of the supervisors in the section.

She was named to the now-defunct municipal court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1990, and her assignments included criminal trial and master calendar courts as well as felony preliminary hearings and arraignments.

She was supervising judge in the Metropolitan Branch in 1993, then moved to a direct civil calendar court.

Multiple Assignments

Following elevation to the Superior Court, she sat in a civil and criminal trial court in Santa Monica before moving to a criminal slot in Compton, followed by an assignment hearing long cause civil and criminal trials. She spent 1998 and 1999 in a fast-track civil court downtown, before moving to a complex litigation court at Central Civil West.

Her duties there have included the trial of the coordinated West Coast cases against the maker of Vioxx and lawsuits brought by farm workers in Honduras, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica over exposure to pesticides.

She has been involved in numerous Superior Court committees, including the Executive Committee and committees involved with the interviewing and hiring of research attorneys.

She has also served as an advisory member to the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California Litigation Section, and as a director of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

Nursing Career

Chaney earned her law degree from Loyola Law School in 1977 and was admitted to the State Bar in 1978.  She is an alumna of Mount Saint Mary’s College, where she graduated with a nursing degree in 1967.

Before pursuing a law career, the judge worked as a registered nurse from 1967 to 1972, first at Cedars Sinai and then at County-USC Medical Center. She fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Justice Robert M. Mallano to presiding justice.

Chaney is a Republican.

Johnson, 48, has been a magistrate since 1999. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California from 1989 to 1999 and was an associate at Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips from 1985 to 1989.

Johnson is a graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Miriam A. Vogel.

Johnson, a Democrat, had a number of well-known backers in his bid for the court, including retired Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer, who was Mallano’s predecessor, and retired U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who told the MetNews three years ago that the magistrate had a “stellar record” on the court.

Schwarzenegger also nominated Alameda Superior Court Judge  Kathleen M. Banke and San Francisco Superior Court Judge  Robert L. Dondero to the First District’s Div. One and Contra Costa Superior Court Judge  Terence L. Bruiniers to Div. Five. 

Banke, 56, has been a judge since 2006. Previously, she was an associate at Reed Smith and its predecessor Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May. Her law degree is from the  University of Colorado and her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento.

She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice William Stein. Banke is a Republican.

Dondero, 63, has served as a judge since 1992. Prior to that, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California from 1978 to 1992 and a San Francisco deputy district attorney from 1971 to 1978.

Dondero earned a law degree at UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Douglas E. Swager. 

Dondero is a Republican.

Bruiniers, 63, has been a judge since 1998. He was a  principal at  Farrand, Cooper & Bruiniers from 1981 to 1988 and an Alameda deputy district attorney from 1973 to 1980. His undergraduate and law degrees are from UC Berkeley.

He fills the vacancy created by the disability retirement of Justice Linda M. Gemello. Bruiniers is registered decline-to-state.

Court of Appeal nominations are subject to confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the senior presiding justice of the district in which the nomination is made.

J. Anthony Kline is the senior presiding justice in the First District and Joan Dempsey Klein is the senior presiding justice in this district.

Schwarzenegger named San Francisco Superior Court  Commissioner Ronald E. Albers and Richard B. Ulmer Jr., a partner at Latham & Watkins, to the San Francisco Superior Court, Supervising Deputy Attorney General F. Brian Alvarez to the Fresno Superior Court, and Yolo Superior Court Referee David W. Reed as a judge of that court.

 Albers, 60, of San Francisco, has served as a commissioner since 2002. He began his career as a sole practitioner in 1974, later serving as director of the Juvenile Justice Research Project, trial attorney with Legal Services for Children, and as a trial attorney and later an administrator in the San Francisco County Public Defender’s Office.

He is a former member of the State Bar Board of Governors and a former advisory member of the California Judicial Council.

Ulmer, 55, has been in private practice since 1986. He earned degrees at Stanford Law School and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Alvarez, 42, was a deputy attorney general from 2002 to 2008 and was elevated to a supervisory position last year. Prior to that, he was a deputy district attorney for Fresno County from 1995 to 2002.

Alvarez earned degrees from San Joaquin College of Law and California State University, Fresno.

 Reed, 53, has served as a referee since 2006 and was a sole practitioner from 1983 to 2006. He earned degrees from McGeorge School of Law and the University of Illinois.

Albers is a Democrat, Ulmer and Alvarez are Republicans, and Reed is registered decline-to-state.


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