Friday, August 21, 2009
Schwarzenegger Names Poochigian to Court of Appeal
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday nominated former state Sen. Charles S. Poochigian to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
Poochigian, 60, was the Republican nominee for California attorney general in 2006. He lost the general election to Jerry Brown, who will serve—alongside Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Fifth District Presiding Justice James Ardaiz—on the Commission on Judicial Appointments that must approve the nomination.
Brown’s right to hold office was challenged, in an action filed just prior to the general election, by Republican activists who claimed that he was constitutionally ineligible for the post because he had been an inactive member of the State Bar during the preceding five years. Poochigan said he supported the suit, but denied that his campaign was helping to finance it.
The former legislator received a “not qualified” rating by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, apparently due to his lack of trial court experience. He could not be reached for comment yesterday, and had previously declined to comment on the JNE rating, citing the confidential nature of the process.
Poochigian joined the Fresno law firm of Dowling, Aaron and Keeler after losing the contest for attorney general. Prior to that, he represented Fresno-area districts in the Legislature, serving in the Assembly from 1994 to 1998 and the Senate from 1998 to 2006.
A graduate of California State University, Fresno and Santa Clara University School of Law, he practiced with Steven Vartabedian—now a justice on the Fifth District—from 1975 until 1981, when Vartabedian began his judicial career on the now-defunct Sanger Justice Court. Poochigian then practiced on his own until 1998, when then-Gov. George Deukmejian named him chief deputy appointments secretary.
When Deukmejian left office, his successor, Pete Wilson, made Poochigian his appointments secretary, a post he held until leaving to run for the Assembly. If confirmed, he would fill a seat that has been vacant since Justice Thomas Harris died Nov. 12 of last year.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company