Thursday, September 27, 2001
Davis Nominates Carlos Moreno To State Supreme Court
Dennis Perluss, Richard Mosk Named to Court of Appeal
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Gov. Gray Davis yesterday nominated U.S. District Judge Carlos R. Moreno to the state Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Stanley Mosk.
The governor announced his selection to the news media at the Ronald Reagan State Building, calling Moreno “an individual with broad experience, unimpeachable integrity, and extraordinary ability” who would be a worthy successor to “a true legal giant.”
Mosk was the court’s longest serving justice ever, having spent the last 37 years of his life on the court.
Davis said he expected that “much will be made of the fact that Judge Moreno is a Latino.” He would be the third Supreme Court justice of Hispanic heritage, following Cruz Reynoso, who served from 1982 to 1987, and John Arguelles, a member of the high court from 1987 to 1989.
But while the selection should be a “source of pride” to Hispanic citizens, Davis said, the appointment went to “the best candidate for the job.”
Not waiting for the traditional disclosure at the time of the confirmation hearing, Davis announced that Moreno had been rated “exceptionally well qualified,” the highest rating possible, by a unanimous vote of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
Moreno, who attended the announcement along with his wife and two children, thanked the governor in both English and Spanish. He promised to “represent the court in a fair...and dignified manner, bearing in mind that I must always follow the Constitution and the laws.”
Davis also announced that he will nominate Richard Mosk, a member of the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal and son of the late justice, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Perluss to this district’s Court of Appeal.
Mosk would succeed Justice Ramona Godoy Perez in Div. Five. Godoy Perez died June 6.
Perluss was tapped to replace Justice Richard Neal, who retired Feb. 9.
All of the nominations are subject to confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. When considering Supreme Court and Second District Court of Appeal nominations, the commission consists of Chief Justice Ronald M. George, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of this district’s Div. Three, the state’s senior presiding justice.
Moreno’s confirmation hearing has been slated for Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in the state Supreme Court courtroom in San Francisco. Hearings for the two Court of Appeal nominees are to take place at the Reagan building Oct. 22 at 10 a.m.
The deadline for written comment on the Moreno nomination, or to notify the commission that one wishes to speak at the hearing, is Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. Those wishing to comment in writing on the Court of Appeal nominees, or to notify the commission of a desire to speak at their hearings, is Oct. 15 at 5 p.m.
The commission requested that communications be addressed to the chief justice at 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, Attention: Ms. Gale Tunnell, Secretary to the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
Requests to speak must include a summary of the facts on which any testimony or opinion will be based.
Moreno was one of four candidates whose names were sent to the JNE Commission. The others were Court of Appeal Justices Dennis Cornell of the Fifth District and Stephen Perren of this district’s Div. Six, and Perluss, who was vetted for both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
George said in a statement that, as chairman of the body that will consider the nomination, “I of course cannot comment on Judge Carlos Moreno’s qualifications at this time, but I know that the governor had an excellent pool of four outstanding judges from which to make his selection.”
Div. Five Presiding Justice Paul Turner, who will not have an official role at the appeals court confirmation hearings, expressed no reservations about the potential addition of Mosk to his panel.
“I’m very excited,” Turner said. “I’m honored to have a lawyer of his reputation and integrity serve on Div. Five. He’ll do an excellent job.”
Positive reaction to Moreno’s nomination came quickly from several sources.
Senate Majority Leader Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, who attended the announcement, said the appointment demonstrated the governor’s “eye for excellence,” as well as his “commitment to diversity.”
Polanco said he has known Moreno for over 20 years, dating to Moreno’s tenure as a deputy city attorney and as a board member of a community health center of which the senator was a co-founder.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Abe Khan, who also knows Moreno from their days in the City Attorney’s Office, said it was “a great choice.” Moreno, he said, “has distinguished himself over the course of his career.”
The nominee, he added, is “a quality person” who would decide cases with “a lot of consideration, a lot of compassion, and a lot of reflection.”
USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky said Moreno had “an impeccable reputation” and would likely do a good job on the court.
“I’ve never heard anyone ...impugn his ability as a judge,” Chemerinsky said. “He’s smart, he’s hardworking, and it’s good to have a Latino back on the court.”
The professor also had kind words for Perluss, whom he has worked with in the past. The prospective Div. Seven justice is “very smart and talented,” Chemerinsky said.
Perluss’ profile was raised considerably after Davis named him as a high court finalist. Miriam Krinsky, who worked with him in private practice, said Perluss would make a “phenomenal” Court of Appeal justice.
“I think Dennis is an excellent choice,” Krinsky said. “He is one of the brightest, most thorough, most thoughtful people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”
Perluss, 53, said he was “thrilled and deeply honored to be appointed to the Court of Appeal” and that he “hoped to serve the people and the cause of justice in my new position.” The former Morrison & Foerster partner was one of Davis’ first appointees to the Los Angeles Superior Court and currently sits at the Criminal Courts Building.
Richard Mosk, 62, commented that he had “always been grateful to the people of the state of California for allowing my father to serve [in public office] for 60 years, and I’m grateful to the governor for letting me have that opportunity.”
Stanley Mosk was a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and the state attorney general before his appointment to the state’s highest court in 1964. Richard Mosk was a commercial litigator in Los Angeles from 1965 to 2000, first with Mitchell, Silverberg & Knupp and then as a name partner in Sanders, Barnet, Goldman, Simons & Mosk.
He served on the claims tribunal by appointment of then-President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1984, and returned to the panel in 1997 by appointment of then-President Bill Clinton. He also serves as an arbitrator and mediator in various types of disputes.
In 1975, he took an eight-month leave from his firm to serve as a deputy federal public defender. He said he did so at the invitation of then-Federal Public Defender John Van de Kamp, later the state attorney general and now in private practice.
“A little change is a good thing sometimes,” he said, referring both to that experience and to his potential confirmation as a justice.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company