Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Davis Makes Two Long-Awaited Appointments to San Bernardino Superior Court
By J’AMY PACHECO, Staff Writer
Ontario attorney Katrina West and Redlands attorney John M. Pacheco were appointed to the San Bernardino Superior Court yesterday by Gov. Gray Davis.
The long-awaited appointments were the first in San Bernardino County to fill new judgeships created by legislation in effective this year. One seat remains unfilled.
West, a partner at Covington & Crowe, said yesterday she is “very honored; very excited” about the appointment.
When she takes the oath, West will become the first African American judge to serve on San Bernardino County’s bench.
“It feels great to be the first,” she said. “I’ve been the first in other categories. It’s exciting, because it represents change. It represents advancement and growth for everyone, I think.”
Pacheco was in New York for the World Series, and could not be reached for comment.
Presiding Judge Roberta McPeters—who said rumors had been circulating that the judgeships would not be filled this year—described the appointments as “like an early Christmas.”
West, 38, earned a bachelor of arts degree with a double major in psychology and sociology from Bryn Mawr College. She earned her law degree from UCLA Law School in 1990, and joined Covington & Crowe in Ontario as a family law practitioner the same year.
She became a certified family law specialist in 1995, and rose to partner in 1998. She was the firm’s first African American partner.
West has acted as a judge pro tempore and mediator in family law cases. She has also been a member of the Family Law Executive Committee of the State Bar, the Lawyer Referral Service of the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association, the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, the San Bernardino County Inns of Court, and the African-American Attorneys of the Inland Empire Association, for which she served as Secretary from 1995 to 1996. She is a former Vice President of the San Bernardino County Barrister’s Association.
Tammy Jager Peasley, a former partner at Covington & Crowe, said West will make “a superb judicial officer.”
“She has both the temperament and the energy for the position,” Peasley said. “I’m really excited for her. I am proud to have been a partner with Katrina, and I believe she will be an outstanding addition to the San Bernardino County bench.”
Melanie Fisch, who works as a consultant for Covington & Crowe, called West “a sterling addition to the bench.”
“She is an excellent appointment,” Fisch said. “She is highly principled, she is disciplined. Her youth and energy will be a real benefit to everyone in the county.
Fisch also described West as “dedicated” and possessing “the highest degree of integrity.”
“She really embodies what we want our judges to be,” she stated.
McPeters, who recalled having sworn West in after she passed the bar, said West has “a good reputation in the community for being hard-working.”
Pacheco, 48, is a partner with the Redlands law firm of Garza, Garza & Pacheco, which he joined in 1995. A civil litigator, he handles personal injury, products liability, medical malpractice and government tort liability.
He worked as an associate and partner with the law firm of Rose, Klein & Marias in Ontario from 1984 to 1995. He served as president of the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association and has been a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California and the San Bernardino County Bar Association. He has also served as a court-appointed arbitrator and as a volunteer judge pro tempore for the San Bernardino Superior Court.
Pacheco earned a bachelor of arts degree from Azusa Pacific University, and a juris doctorate degree from Western State University.
His partner, Tom Garza, said Pacheco indicated by telephone that he was “very pleased and honored.”
Garza said Pacheco has developed “a wide breadth of experience” that will help him on the bench. But that experience, he said, is only part of what he believes will make Pacheco an exceptional jurist.
“It starts with John’s heart,” he stated. “He is such a good person. He truly has a good heart, and it lends itself to a very wonderful judicial temperament.
“He possesses the intelligence and experience that most judges have that are almost a prerequisite to being qualified,” he added. “But his compassion and his heart will inure to his benefit and certainly to everyone else’s that appears before him.”
Wilfred Schneider, president of the San Bernardino chapter of American Inns of Court, called Pacheco “a great, great choice.”
“He is bright, he will honor the court, and he has all of the civility and professionalism and ethics that will really bring honor and distinction to the bench,” Schneider said. “He has a huge amount of common sense and good judgement.
“He is diligent,” Schneider added. “Those guys are in the trenches, doing the day-to-day work of administering justice. It’s a lot of work. He’s got the diligence to get the job done, and to do a good job.”
McPeters said it has not yet been decided where the new judges will sit. Both have cases to wrap up, and no swearing-in date has yet been established for either appointee.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company