Tuesday, October 28, 2003
U.S. Senate Confirms Judge Dale Fischer to Serve on Federal Bench
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Dale S. Fischer to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Fischer, 51, was approved on a roll call vote of 86-0 just days after clearing the Judiciary Committee. Once her commission is signed by the president and she is sworn in, she will fill a position created by last year’s Justice Department Appropriations Authorization Act and bring the local federal bench to full strength for the first time in many years.
Fischer said she has some motions that need to be resolved before she can leave the court, but that she does not expect to hear any more trials in Superior Court. She said she probably will be sworn in two to four weeks, but has not been told at which facility she will be sitting.
Fischer is a New Jersey native who graduated from the University of South Florida and from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Women’s Law Journal. After graduation in 1980, she joined Kindel & Anderson and spent 17 years with the Los Angeles firm as a business litigator.
When that firm broke up, she joined the local office of Heller, Ehrmann, White & McAuliffe. But she was there only about two months when then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed her to the old Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1997.
As a Municipal Court judge, she heard a criminal calendar and was later named supervising judge in Hollywood. Among the many defendants who came through her courtroom were then-Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez, who received a deferred adjudication and eventual dismissal after conditionally pleading guilty to a drug possession charge, and former pro football star Jim Brown.
Fischer sentenced Brown to six months in jail after he rejected probation on a charge of vandalizing his wife’s car. Brown appealed, arguing the judge was wrong to order him into a domestic violence program as a probation condition since he had been convicted of attacking his wife’s car and not her person. (Jurors acquitted on a related charge of making terrorist threats.)
The Superior Court Appellate Department upheld the sentence, saying that the statute requiring defendants placed on probation for domestic violence crimes to participate in counseling applied because Brown attacked the car in response to an argument with his wife. Even if the statute didn’t apply, the panel added, Fischer was “well within [her] discretion” in imposing what the judges agreed was a reasonable condition.
Following trial court unification in 2000, then-Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Victor Chavez gave Fischer a temporary assignment as a liaison between judges of the former municipal courts and their new Superior Court colleagues. She later was assigned to her present post, hearing felony cases at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center downtown.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company