Thursday, January 17, 2013
Senior Judge A. Howard Matz to Retire From Central District Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Senior Judge A. Howard Matz will retire from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, effective April 1, after having served on it for almost 15 years, the court said yesterday.
Matz, 69, was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton on Oct. 20, 1997, and received his commission on June 29, 1998. He assumed senior status on July 11, 2011.
The court’s release quoted Matz’s notice to Chief Judge George King of his intent to retire:
“It has been my great privilege and pleasure to serve as a United States District Judge. Although I will remain very active in professional life, I look forward to pursuing various long-deferred personal interests and to spending more time with my family.”
Matz told the MetNews he has not yet looked into opportunities in the private sector and does not plan to do so until he is ready to undertake them, but that he intends to remain active in supporting the work of the court and of courts in general, especially where it concerns access to justice for self-represented litigants.
Matz chaired the district court’s Pro Bono/Pro Se Committee from 2003 to 2012, during which time the committee worked with public counsel to establish the country’s first walk-in pro se clinic, located in the Spring Street courthouse.
Since then, the committee has helped establish pro se clinics in the Eastern Division and the Southern Division, and the clinics have received widespread recognition, including in video and written materials circulated nationwide by the Federal Judicial Center.
During his time on the bench, Matz presided over numerous noteworthy cases, several of which were ultimately adjudicated by the Supreme Court. In 2002 he became the first judge in the country to rule on challenges to the detention of alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, and in the following year ruled that under CERCLA, various California water districts were entitled to recover costs from a military weapons manufacturer for cleaning up perchlorate-contaminated aquifers.
Later that year he enjoined real estate magnate and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from using the word “Korean” (as opposed to “Koreatown”) in the names of some of his apartment buildings, finding that such practices violated the Fair Housing Act.
Matz says no case he has overseen, however, has been more important than Katie A. v. Bontá, a class-action in which advocates sought to improve the provision of mental health and supportive services for children and youth in, or at imminent risk of placement in, foster care in California.
After years of litigation, the case settled in 2011, with the litigants agreeing to a coordinated, community based program which includes intensive home-based services.
Matz said the case, which he still oversees, has been “very difficult to implement” as it involves the coordinated efforts of a large number of state and local agencies, schools, and health-care providers.
The judge also cites as one of his proudest accomplishments the reduction of his case load from hundreds of cases when he assumed senior status, and says that he is leaving “very few” that his colleagues will need to handle.
He is especially known for his contributions to intellectual property jurisprudence and in 2009, became the first recipient of the California State Bar’s “Vanguard Award” in recognition of them. Among his notable rulings in the field was Miller v. Glenn Miller Productions, 318 F. Supp. 2d 993 (C.D. Cal. 2004), which held for the first time that the “sublicensing rule” from copyright and patent law should be extended to trademark and related publicity rights, a ruling the Ninth Circuit affirmed by attaching Matz’s decision as an appendix.
In several highly publicized cases brought by softcore pornography publisher Perfect 10 and by music recording giant Universal Music Group, Matz issued precedent-setting rulings construing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. More recently, Matz held that the term “foreign official” in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act encompasses high-ranking executives of state-owned enterprises, and that Dick Clark Productions has the right to produce the Golden Globes award show under its contract with the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Matz also served on many judicial committees, including the Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instructions Committee.
Prior to his appointment as district judge, Matz was a partner in the law firm of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert & Matz from 1983 to 1998, and before that a partner in the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP from 1979 to 1983. From 1974 to 1979, he was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and served as chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit from 1977 to 1979.
Matz received his undergraduate degree cum laude from Columbia University in 1965, and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1968. After graduating from law school, Matz clerked for the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The chief judge said in a statement:
“Judge Matz has been a well-respected, very knowledgeable member of the Court for nearly 15 years, and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the bar. He leaves behind a valuable legacy, not only of his many significant decisions on the bench, but also of his steadfast commitment to ensuring equal justice under law through the establishment of Pro Se Clinics in each of our Court’s three divisions. We wish him well on his retirement.”
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company