Dec.
31,
2014

A report on where
things
stand



Former Judicial Candidate, Convicted on Child Pornography Charge, Suspended From State Bar... Sidney Thomas Becomes Chief Judge of Ninth Circuit...Bill Introduced to Allow Lawyers to Charge Fees for Immigration Work Related to President’s Deferred Removal Plan



Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

David Tamman
Suspended Attorney

A case management conference in Tamman’s lawsuit against Nixon Peabody LLP, where he was a partner, was postponed from Nov. 24 to May 20 of next year. Tamman, who had left the firm while under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, contends in his complaint that he was “thrown under the bus” so that his partners could get their hands on his $1.5 million book of business.
The firm contends it acted properly in cooperating with the agency’s investigation into charges against a Tamman client, and ultimately against the attorney himself.
Oral arguments were held Nov. 21 in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tamman’s appeal from his Nov. 13, 2012 conviction and seven-year prison sentence on one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, five counts of altering documents, one count of being an accessory after the fact to his client’s mail and securities fraud crimes, and three counts of aiding and abetting his client’s false testimony before the SEC.
Tamman’s attorney, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, argued to the appellate panel that his client’s jury waiver should not have been accepted because he was under the influence of several psychotropic drugs at the time. He also contends that the sentence is excessive and that hearsay evidence was improperly admitted at trial.
Tamman’s client, former fund manager and radio personality John Farahi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for running the scheme, which involved false promises that investors’ money—more than $24 million was collected, prosecutors said—would be invested in corporate bonds backed by the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Tamman’s interim suspension from the State Bar took effect Feb. 18 of last year. An additional suspension for not paying bar dues took effect July 2 of last year.

Christopher Garcia
Former Deputy City Attorney

Garcia, a onetime candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court judge, has been placed on interim suspension from the State Bar, effective Jan. 7.
Garcia pled no contest Oct. 21 to possession of child pornography. He was placed on probation for five years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
He faces summary disbarment based on conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.

Justin Moongyu Lee
Suspended Los Angeles Attorney

Lee, 57, a State Bar member since 1997, but under suspension for nonpayment of dues since July 1 of this year, was suspended from practicing before the U.S. District Court for the Central District on Dec. 22.
He was indicted Sept. 3 by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana. He is accused of running an investment scheme that defrauded foreign investors seeking permanent resident status in the United States through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
A related complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission, filed the same day as the indictment, names Lee; his wife, Rebecca Tawwon Lee; disbarred Los Angeles attorney Thomas Edward Kent; and five companies allegedly controlled by Lee as defendants. It alleges that the defendants raised more than $11 million from investors seeking to participate in the EB-5 program, used the money improperly to finance other ventures, and lied to the government in order to conceal their failure to meet the EB-5 program’s job-creation requirements.
The civil and criminal allegations are similar to those raised in State Bar disciplinary proceedings filed against Lee in January of last year. In a 38-page response, he acknowledged responsibility for “errors and/or mistakes” in the handling of EB-5 investments, but largely denied the State Bar’s charges and sought to deflect blame to Kent.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner has set a scheduling conference in the civil suit for March 16.


Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments




Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are no vacancies.
Sidney Thomas became chief judge Dec. 1..

 

Judge Audrey B. Collins retired Aug. 1 to join the state Court of Appeal.




Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to swear in the court’s newest justices on Monday.
Stanford Law School professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar was elected to the court Nov. 4 for a full 12-year term, and Leondra R. Kruger, previously a high-ranking Justice Department attorney, was confirmed Dec. 22 to succeed Justice Joyce L. Kennard, who retired April 5.


First District

Two confirmations occurred Dec. 10. Marla Miller, previously a San Francisco Superior Court judge, succeeds retired Justice Paul Haerle in Div. Two, and former State Bar President Jon Streeter fills a Div. Four vacancy resulting from James Humes’ appointment as presiding justice in Div. One.

Second District

Justice Walter Croskey of Div. Three died Aug. 29.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lee S. Edmon will succeed Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of Div. Three, effective Monday.
Justice Frank Jackson retired from Div. Seven June 30 of last year. Justice Orville Armstrong retired from Div. Five July 31 of last year and died Dec. 22.
Justice Paul Coffee retired from Div. Six Jan. 31, 2012.
A vacancy exists in Div. One as a result of the elevation of Frances Rothschild to presiding justice.
Among those whose names have been sent to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation as possible appointees to the court are White House attorney LaMar Baker; Los Angeles attorney Bradley Phillips; Ventura Superior Court Judge Tari Cody; Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Russell Kussman, Richard Rico, John Segal, Luis Lavin, Helen Bendix and Sanjay Kumar; and Southwestern Law School professor Christopher Cameron.
The following judges have been temporarily assigned to the court: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix to Div. One through January; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin to Div. Three through February, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman to Div. Five through January, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Feuer to Div. Seven through January.

Third District

Gov. Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary, Jonathan Renner, was elected to the court Nov. 4, to fill a seat that has been vacant since Tani Cantil-Sakauye became chief justice in January 2011. Renner’s 12-year term will commence Monday.

Fifith District

M. Bruce Smith, previously a Fresno Superior Court judge, was confirmed Dec. 10 as the successor to Justice Rebecca Wiseman, who retired Oct. 31 of last year.

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court

Thirteen deputy district attorneys were elected to the court June 3 and will take office Monday.
Amy Carter will succeed Judge Michael Solner, who retired in February; Carol Rose will fill the seat last held by Judge Ronald Sohigian, who retired in April; Shannon L. Knight will fill the seat now held by Judge Lance Ito; Chris J. Frisco will succeed Judge Joseph DiLoreto, who retired July 31; Alison Matsumoto Estrada will replace Judge Harvey Giss, who retired July 16; Ann H. Park takes the seat of Judge Arthur M. Lew, who retired Oct. 15; Serena R. Murillo will fill the post last held by Judge Daniel Lopez, who retired Oct. 1; Teresa Pineda Magno succeeds Judge David Milton, who retired in February; Joan M. Chrostek will replace Judge Bob S. Bowers Jr., who retired Nov. 14; Stacy Wiese will fill the seat last held by Judge R. Bruce Minto, who retired in March; Carol Najera will replace Judge James B. Pierce, whom she defeated; Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong will take the seat formerly held by Judge Carlos Uranga, who retired in April; and Andrew Cooper will succeed Judge Jessica Perrin Silvers, who retired in February.
Judges-elect Tom Griego and Jacqueline Lewis, elected in November, will take office Monday as well. Griego comes to the court from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and will succeed Judge Rex Heeseman, who retired in August. Lewis, a commissioner, will succeed Judge Michael Nash.
Gov. Jerry Brown, on Dec. 24, named Supervising Deputy Attorney General Keith Borjon to succeed Judge Charles W. McCoy, who retired Sept. 1 of last year; Superior Court Commissioner John Slawson to succeed Judge Louis Meisinger, who retired Feb. 7 of this year, and Commissioner Anthony Trendacosta to succeed Judge Janice Croft, who retired Feb. 18.
Vacancies remain as a result of the retirements of Judges John Meigs March 7, Candace Beason April 15, Wendy L. Kohn June 6, Antonio Barreto Jr. Sept. 5, Steven Ogden Sept. 24, James Steele Sept. 30, and Leslie A. Dunn Nov. 10, and the elevation of Judge Brian Hoffstadt to the Court of Appeal Aug. 28. .
There is a vacancy in a position that the Legislature authorized but has never funded, and a number of commissioner positions have been converted to judgeships.
Among those whose names have been sent to the JNE Commission as possible appointees to judgeships are Los Angeles attorney Timothy Dillon, Torrance attorney George Bird, South Pasadena attorney Mark S. Priver; Deputy District Attorneys Kevin Stennis, Candace Foy Smith, Leonard Torrealba, Kathleen Tuttle and Brentford Ferreira; Court of Appeal staff attorneys Frank J. Menetrez, Kenneth E. Roberson and Kim Nguyen; Superior Court Commissioners Anthony Trendacosta, Collette Serio, Marilyn Kading Martinez, Robert Kawahara, Alan Rubin, Emma Castro, Jane Godfrey, Sharon Lewis Miller, Mark Zuckman, Dennis Mulcahy and Kenneth Taylor; State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn; Deputy County Counsel Julie Ann Silva; Glendale attorney Kenneth Wright; Los Angeles attorneys Timothy Martella and Angel Navarro; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Wesley Hsu.
The name of Ed Chau was sent to the commission prior to his election to the state Assembly.
Commissioner Douglas Haigh retired Sept. 26 and Commissioner John Johnson Aug. 30. Another commissioner vacancy will exist as of Monday when Jacqueline Lewis takes over the judgeship to which she was elected Nov. 4.


Legislation of Interest to the Legal Community

The Legislature took the following action on bills of interest to the legal community in December.

AB 29 by Assemblymember Nora Campos, D-San Jose, which would provide that “in any civil action involving sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor, it shall not be a defense that the minor consented to the sexual intercourse.”

AB 60 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. The bill would permit attorneys to charge fees for assisting immigrants in obtaining relief from deportation under President Obama’s recent executive order. Existing law prohibits such fees from being charged in the absence of federal legislation authorizing such relief.

SB 30 by Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, which would limit the defense of consent in civil sexual battery cases to instances in which the allegedly consenting person is over the age of 18 years or the spouse of the alleged perpetrator.


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