Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Page 1


Judges Pregerson Set to Take Senior Status This Winter


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Both Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson and his son, U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson of the Central District of California, are scheduled to take senior status this winter, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts reported on its website.

The elder Pregerson, who turns 92 next month, is to assume semi-retired status on Dec. 11, the 44th anniversary of his taking the oath as a U.S. district judge, a post to which he was appointed by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Dean Pregerson, 64, was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1996. He is scheduled to take senior status Jan. 28.

Neither Pregerson could be reached for comment yesterday, but a person familiar with the situation said Dean Pregerson’s intentions have been known for some time, but that Harry Pregerson’s former law clerks were first notified yesterday of his plan.

One of those ex-clerks, Los Angeles labor lawyer Bernhard Rohrbacher, commented:

“Everything I know about legal writing, I learned from Harry Pregerson, and everything I do as a lawyer carries his influence. He is just fundamentally a decent guy.”

Pregerson “has never forgotten that his parents were immigrants, and has always been very proud of his father, who was a mail carrier,” Rohrbacher—an immigrant himself—added. Immigrants and working people, he said, could always expect a fair shake in Pregerson’s courtroom.

One of his most admirable qualities, the former clerk added, is his ability to recognize that the law must adapt to circumstances not previously understood. He was impressed, he said, with Pregerson’s willingness to realize that gays were entitled to the same rights as everyone else, a view not widely held when the judge was growing up or while he was serving in the Marine Corps during World War II.  

Pregerson graduated from UCLA in 1947 and from UC Berkeley School of Law in 1950. He practiced law in Los Angeles until 1965, when then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Brown elevated him to the Los Angeles Superior Court the following year, and Johnson appointed him to the federal bench the year after that. He was confirmed by the Senate 10 days after Johnson nominated him, and he served on the district bench until Jimmy Carter appointed him to the Ninth Circuit in 1979.

Dean Pregerson is a graduate of UCLA and UC Davis Law School. After finishing his legal studies, he spent a year as a parole hearing officer for the state Department of Corrections and two years with a public defender’s office in Guam.

He went into private practice in Los Angeles in 1979, specializing in civil litigation. He also has been involved in a wide range of civic activities, serving as president of the Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commission, a member of the Coliseum Commission and a board member of Bet Tzedek Legal Services and the Salvation Army Bell Homeless Shelter.

He told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, after Sen. Barbara Boxer recommended his appointment to the federal bench:

“My heart has always been in public service. I grew up in an environment that always stressed helping others. I feel a dream has been fulfilled and I look upon it as an opportunity to work hard and do my best to make the court process a fair and humane process.”


Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company