Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Governor Sends Dunning’s Name to JNE Commission
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Orange Superior Court Presiding Judge Kim Dunning confirmed yesterday that she is being vetted for a seat on this district’s Court of Appeal.
Dunning told the MetNews she learned in the last month that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has forwarded her name to the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
A vacancy has existed on Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal since former Presiding Justice Candace Cooper, the division’s first presiding justice, stepped down at the end of December.
Dunning was appointed to the Orange Superior Court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1997, and graduated from Inglewood High School before attending Stanford University and Southern Methodist University School of Law.
She became presiding judge in January after a two-year term as assistant presiding judge and sat by assignment on Div. One of this District’s Court of Appeal during November 2008.
Dunning said that it was “premature” to talk about joining the Court of Appeal, noting that the move is no guarantee of an appointment and that she is one of a number of candidates. However, she said her time on Div. One last year was “terrific” and commented that serving as a justice was “the kind of work I would love to do.”
She indicated that her first year heading the Orange Superior Court had been “a challenge,” but said she expected it was a difficult year for all California superior courts given ongoing budget shortfalls.
Dunning was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1977 and the State Bar of California the next year. She began her legal career with Morris, Polich & Purdy in Tustin and Los Angeles, and in 1981 entered private practice with Murtaugh, Hatcher & Miller in Tustin.
The following year Dunning became a deputy city attorney in Santa Ana before becoming a senior research attorney for Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Thomas F. Crosby in 1983. She briefly went back into private practice in 1996 with Ramsay & Johnson in Irvine before her appointment to the bench.
Dunning began her judicial career hearing dependency and delinquency cases on the court’s Juvenile Panel, and spent three years on its Unlimited Civil Panel beginning in 2000. She heard criminal cases on the court’s Central Panel and family law cases in 2004, and joined the court’s Complex Civil Litigation Panel in 2005.
The JNE 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.
The MetNews reported earlier this year that Schwarzenegger sent the names of Div. Eight Justices Laurence Rubin and Tricia Bigelow to the commission as possible replacements for Cooper. If either justice is appointed and confirmed by the Senate, another vacancy would be created.
The governor has previously sent the names of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Eric Taylor, Edward Ferns, Joanne O’Donnell, James Chalfant, Emilie Elias, Aurelio Munoz—who is now retired—Owen Lee Kwong, Peter Lichtman, Carl West, Ronald Coen, William Highberger and Fumiko Wasserman, as well as that of Gregory R. Smith, former head of the appellate practice at Irell & Manella, to the JNE Commission as possible appointees to the Court of Appeal.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company