Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, February 13, 2012


Page 3


O’Leary Confirmed as Presiding Justice in Fourth District


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Court of Appeal Justice Kathleen O’Leary won confirmation Friday as presiding justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three.

The 61-year-old jurist received unanimous approval from the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments, following a brief hearing in which no one spoke against the nominee. The Administrative Office of the Courts, which provides staff assistance for the commission, had previously reported that no letters of opposition were received.

O’Leary’s supporters included all of her colleagues in Div. Three, as well as several judges who served with her on the Orange Superior Court. O’Leary has been a judge since September 1981, when Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her to the West Orange County Municipal Court.

She went on to serve as assistant presiding judge and presiding judge of that court before being appointed to the Orange Superior Court on July 1, 1986, by then-Gov.  George Deukmejian, and was in her third term as the presiding judge of that court when then-Gov. Gray Davis nominated her to the Court of Appeal in December 1999.

Her appointment as associate justice was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on Jan. 21, 2000.

In January 2006, Justice O’Leary received the Franklin G. West Award, the Orange County Bar Association’s highest honor. This award is presented each year to an outstanding attorney or judge whose lifetime achievements have advanced justice and the law.

She is a past member and past chair of the Governing Committee of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research and has taught at the National Center for State Courts, and the National Judicial College. In 2003, O’Leary was presented with the Bernard S. Jefferson Award for Distinguished Service in Judicial Education by the California Judges Association.

O’Leary has served as a member of the Judicial Council of California, on a number of its advisory committees, and on numerous Judicial Council task forces. The Judicial Council named her Jurist of the Year in 1999.

The Orange County resident graduated from Marymount College, now part of Loyola Marymount University, in 1972 and from Southwestern Law School in 1975.

While in law school, she clerked at the City Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, after having worked for the city Personnel Department during both her undergraduate and law school years. She also worked in the office of then-Assemblyman Curtis Tucker, an Inglewood Democrat, before being hired as a deputy public defender in Orange County.

She remained in that position until March 1981, when she became a partner in a Santa Ana firm, concentrating on criminal defense.


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