Thursday, November 13, 2003
Davis Names Pines, Five Others to Los Angeles Superior Court
Governor Also Appoints 10 to Other Courts, Leaving Only a Handful of Vacancies
By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer
Gov. Gray Davis has filled most of the remaining vacancies in the state’s trial courts, appointing former Los Angeles City Attorney Burt Pines and five others to the Los Angeles Superior Court and 10 to other courts around the state.
Named to the Los Angeles court Tuesday along with Pines, the governor’s judicial appointments secretary, were Deputy District Attorneys Michael D. Carter and Michael A. Latin and lawyers Wendy L. Kohn, Jan G. Levine and Michael P. Linfield.
Pines, 64, acknowledged yesterday that his appointment “was not a closely guarded secret.” He said he has long aspired to judicial office, noting that his high respect for judges and the work they perform was one of the reasons he took the job of judicial appointments secretary in 1999.
“It’s a great honor and privilege to join the ranks of the new judges we’ve appointed, as well as the more experienced judges,” Pines declared. “I certainly look forward to a new challenge.”
Pines, who was elected city attorney in 1973 and served two four-year terms, noted that he will be embarking on his new career “at an age when most judges are retiring.” But he said he has “no interest in retiring,” adding he plans to bring the “same energy and dedication to the bench that I gave in all of my former positions.”
Pines said he has “given a lot of thought to the subject of what makes a good judge” while reviewing candidates on behalf of Davis, who leaves office Monday.
“I have high standards, as evidenced by the people I’ve recommended to the governor,” he commented. “I hope to succeed in measuring up to these high standards.”
The judicial appointments secretary said he has often suggested to newly appointed judges that they begin by doing misdemeanor criminal work as a way to “ease into the new role of being a judge.”
“I would like to start in the same way. Not forever, but for a while.”
Pines, who was the Metropolitan News-Enterprise Person of the Year in 2000, has been credited with opening the City Attorney’s Office to gay, female, and minority lawyers during his tenure. After leaving office in 1981 he joined the firm of Alschuler & Grossman, which became Alschuler Grossman & Pines. It is now Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan.
Marshall Grossman, who attended Los Angeles High School with Pines and has known him for about 50 years, commented on his former partner’s appointment:
“I think the judicial appointments secretary selected wisely.”
“Burt will make a great judge. He has integrity, intellect, compassion and a sense of fair play and applies the highest standards of ethics to his conduct....All of his former partners at the firm are honored by his performance as judicial appointments secretary and his appointment to the bench.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Dunn, who was Pines’ law partner at the time he was elected city attorney, said Pines will make a “superb jurist.”
“Not only is he intellectually up to it, but I’m sure that he will treat the litigants and parties with great respect.”
After earning his law degree at New York University School of Law, Pines began his legal career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. He became involved in politics at the behest of attorney Charles Manatt, who suggested he work on the 1969 U.S. Senate campaign of John Tunney.
Pines and Davis co-chaired Tunney’s speakers committee, and when Tunney defeated incumbent Sen. George Murphy, Pines helped get Manatt elected chairman of the state Democratic Party. Pines became counsel to the party, and cemented the contacts that made his 1973 challenge to veteran City Attorney Roger Arnebergh possible.
Pines, who earned his undergraduate degree at USC and has chaired the California Commission on Personal Privacy, served as co-chair of Davis’ transition team following the 1998 gubernatorial election. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Laurie Zelon to Div. Seven of this district’s Court of Appeal.
Latin, 44, has been a deputy district attorney since 1987 and works in the Major Crimes Division. He prosecuted Kathleen Soliah for her 1975 involvement with the Symbionese Liberation Army in an attempt to murder three Los Angeles police officers.
The case took over two years to prepare and resulted in Soliah being convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Four other former SLA members were also convicted in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Latin said yesterday he was “hoping” to receive an appointment in the final days of the governor’s tenure in office, but was “certainly not expecting it.”
Though he has had other high profile cases, none of them involved an amount of work comparable to the Soliah prosecution, he noted.
Latin has been honored as California Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine, Prosecutor of the Year by the Century City Bar Association, and Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He also received the Pursuit of Justice Award from the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys.
He earned his undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara and his law degree from Loyola Law School. He will replace Judge Warren Greene, who died last month.
Carter, 39, has been a deputy district attorney since 1991 and works in the District Attorney’s Victims Impact Program, where he specializes in the prosecution of child abuse, sexual assaults, domestic violence, hate crimes, stalking and elder abuse cases.
Black Prosecutors’ Group
He has been a member of the California District Attorneys Association, the National Black Prosecutors Association, the California Association of Black Lawyers, and John M. Langston Bar Association. He also served on the board of directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.
Carter earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his law degree from Tulane University. He will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Karl Jaeger.
Linfield, 52, is a plaintiffs’ tort lawyer who described himself as “absolutely delighted to be selected by Governor Davis to serve on the Superior Court.”
A former associate with Alschuler Grossman & Pines from 1989 to 1992, Linfield said he knew “lots of very qualified people who are being considered” and was “both ecstatic and surprised” to learn of his selection.
“Being in the same entering class with Burt Pines is an additional plus,” he said.
Linfield specializes in employment, discrimination, and consumer fraud cases. He has served as a judge pro tem and a volunteer arbitrator and mediator for the Superior Court.
His undergraduate degree was earned at UCLA and his law degree comes from Harvard Law School. After college and before entering law school, he worked as a schoolteacher, union organizer, and legislative advocate for the United Farm Workers, and was deputy to the Mayor of West Hollywood.
He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Madeleine Flier to Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal.
Kohn, 59, has worked for the last 10 years as a neutral arbitrator, primarily in disputes involving member firms of the National Association of Securities Dealers, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Pacific Stock Exchange. She has also served on arbitration panels for Kaiser Permanente.
She has served as a judge pro tem in small claims cases and as a volunteer settlement officer, arbitrator and mediator for the Superior Court. She previously was in practice with the law firms of Fields, Fehn, Feinstein and Mandel; Abrams and Kohn; and Goldfarb, Sturman, Averbach and Sturman, where she primarily handled business, tax, estate planning, and real estate matters.
Kohn earned her undergraduate degree at UCLA and her law degree from San Fernando Valley College of Law. She also has a master of dispute resolution degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.
She replaces Judge John Martinez, who retired.
Levine, 53, handles civil litigation and appeals with the firm of Fogel, Feldman, Ostrov, Ringler & Klevens, which she joined in 1998. From 1976 to 1981, she worked at the Center for Law in the Public Interest, where she handled environmental litigation.
From 1987 to 1991, she was a senior staff attorney for People for the American Way, where she reviewed and investigated judicial nominations to the federal bench. From 1995 to 1998, she practiced environmental law with the Law Offices of Jan Chatten-Brown.
She is divorced from former U.S. Rep. Mel Levine, D-Santa Monica.
Levine served on the State Bar’s Equal Access to Justice Commission from 1995 to 1999 and as a member the board of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. Her undergraduate degree is from Harvard University and her law degree is from UCLA.
She replaces Judge William C. Beverly, who retired.
A Superior Court spokesperson said all of the new judges will be sworn in by Friday. Their right to assume office could be open to question if they were not sworn in by the time Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is inaugurated on Monday.
Pines said he expected to take the oath of office last night or today in Sacramento.
Latin said early yesterday afternoon that he expected to be sworn in later in the day by Judge Richard A. Stone, a former deputy district attorney, in Beverly Hills. Linfield said he planned to take the oath this afternoon before Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss of Div. Seven of this district’s Court of Appeal.
The court spokesperson said Kohn was sworn in yesterday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan E. Isacoff. Levine will also be sworn in today and Carter will take the oath on Friday, the spokesperson said.
Any judge can administer the oath of office.
The governor’s Los Angeles Superior Court appointments filled all the vacancies on the court, though another will be created Monday when Judge Dale Fischer is sworn in as a U.S. district judge for the Central District of California. His appointments in other counties left only a handful of judicial vacancies remaining in the state, and Pines said only one of them, at most, will be filled—though he declined to say which one.
Single vacancies remain on the Merced, San Bernardino and Yuba Superior Courts. Pines noted that the Yuba seat is on the March ballot, and said the governor will not make an appointment to it.
The judicial appointments secretary said there is also a vacancy on the Kern Superior Court.
Appointed to trial courts outside Los Angeles County were:
•Evelio M. Grillo and Wynne S. Carvill to the Alameda Superior Court.
Grillo, 51, is a partner in the firm of Grillo & Stevens and a member of the Editorial Board for Matthew Bender’s California Forms of Pleading and Practice. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School and will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge D. Ronald Hyde, who had been ordered removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Carvill, 54, is a business litigator and a partner in Thelen, Reid and Priest who also earned his law degree at Harvard. He replaces Judge Ken Kawaichi, who retired.
•Barry Goode, 55, to the Contra Costa Superior Court. Goode, Davis’ legal affairs secretary, was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but was never confirmed. He is a co-author of Matthew Bender’s Federal Litigation Guide and also a Harvard Law graduate.
He replaces Judge James R. Trembath, who retired.
•Barrett J. Foerster, 61, to the Imperial Superior Court. A partner in the firm of Olins, Foerster and Hayes who represents law enforcement organizations and labor unions in contract disputes and litigation, Foerster earned his law degree at UCLA and also has masters degree from the University of San Diego Law School.
Foerster will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Harmon.
•Robert L. Tamietti, 50, to the Nevada Superior Court. A business litigator and transactional lawyer, Tamietti earned his law degree from University of Utah. He will replace Judge M. Kathleen Butz, who was elevated to the Third District Court of Appeal.
•John C. Gastelum, 44, to the Orange Superior Court. Gastelum is lead research attorney for Justice Richard M. Aronson of Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal. His law degree is from UCLA and he will replace Judge Cormac Carney, who now serves on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
•Robert C. Hight, Allen Sumner and Stephen W. White to the Sacramento Superior Court.
Hight, 58, is the director of the California Department of Fish and Game and was previously chief counsel and executive officer for the California State Lands Commission. He earned his law degree from McGeorge School of Law and will replace Judge Joe Gray, who retired.
Sumner, 52, the governor’s chief deputy legal affairs secretary and previously general counsel for the State and Consumer Services Agency, spent more than 16 years in the California Attorney General’s Office and was a senior assistant attorney general. He headed former Attorney General John Van de Kamp’s legislative program and was deputy legal affairs secretary to Gov. Jerry Brown. His law degree comes from the University of Santa Clara School of Law and he replaces Judge Michael Ullman, who retired.
White, 54, is the state’s inspector general and was previously Sacramento district attorney and a chief assistant attorney general. He earned his law degree at UC Davis and will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alice A. Lytle.
•Kathleen A. Kelly, 45, to the San Francisco Superior Court.
Kelly is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California and a former trial attorney with the San Francisco City Attorney’s office. Her law degree comes from Hastings Law School and she replaces Judge Carlos Bea, who now serves on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company