January
30,
2015

A report on where
things
stand



Judicial Campaigns Off to Early Start as Five File Fundraising Paperwork...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas White to Retire Next Month...Governor Brown Swears in Supreme Court’s Newest Justices


Judicial Elections

The campaign for judicial offices on the June 2016 ballot received an early start this month when Deputy District Attorneys Debra Archuleta, David Berger, Steven Ipson, and Taly Peretz, and civil attorney Jeffrey Carter, filed paperwork in order to begin raising campaign funds.


Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

David Tamman
Suspended Attorney

The state Supreme Court Wednesday declined a request to publish a Court of Appeal opinion allowing Tamman’s suit against Nixon Peabody LLP, where he used to be a partner, to go forward.
A case management conference in the suit is now scheduled for May 20. Tamman, who 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 of last year 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, 2013. An additional suspension for not paying bar dues took effect July 2, 2013.

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 last 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.

 

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




Gov. Jerry Brown swore in the court’s newest justices Jan. 5.
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.


Second District

Justice Walter Croskey of Div. Three died Aug. 29.
Lee S. Edmon, previously a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, succeeded Joan Dempsey Klein as presiding justice of Div. Three on Jan. 5. Justice Frank Jackson retired from Div. Seven June 30, 2013. Justice Orville Armstrong retired from Div. Five July 31, 2013 and died Dec. 22 of last year.
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 Los Angeles attorneys Kent Richland and Bradley Phillips; White House attorney LaMar Baker; Ventura Superior Court Judge Tari Cody; Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Rita Miller, 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 by the chief justice: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix to Div. One through March; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin to Div. Three through February, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman to Div. Five through March, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Feuer to Div. Seven through April 10.

Third District

Jonathan Renner, previously Gov. Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary, 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 began Jan. 5.

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court

Fifteen new judges, elected to the court last year, took office Jan. 5.
Amy Carter succeeded Judge Michael Solner, who retired in February; Carol Rose took the seat last held by Judge Ronald Sohigian, who retired in April; Shannon L. Knight filled the seat previously held by Judge Lance Ito; Chris J. Frisco succeeded Judge Joseph DiLoreto, who retired July 31; Alison Matsumoto Estrada replacee Judge Harvey Giss, who retired July 16; Ann H. Park took the seat of Judge Arthur M. Lew, who retired Oct. 15; Serena R. Murillo filled the post previously held by Judge Daniel Lopez, who retired Oct. 1; Teresa Pineda Magno succeeded Judge David Milton, who retired in February; Joan M. Chrostek replaced Judge Bob S. Bowers Jr., who retired Nov. 14; Stacy Wiese filled the seat last held by Judge R. Bruce Minto, who retired in March; Carol Najera replaced Judge James B. Pierce, whom she defeated; Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong took the seat formerly held by Judge Carlos Uranga, who retired in April; Andrew Cooper succeeded Judge Jessica Perrin Silvers, who retired in February, Tom Griego succeeded Judge Rex Heeseman, who retired in August; and Jacqueline Lewis succeeded Judge Michael Nash.
All of the newly elected judges were deputy district attorneys at the time of election, except for Griego, who was a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles, and Lewis, who was a commissioner.
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 elevations of Judge Brian Hoffstadt on Aug. 28 and Judge Lee Edmon on Jan. 5 to the Court of Appeal. 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.
Judge Thomas White is retiring Feb. 19. Judge Ronald Rose is sitting for the last time today and will retire officially on March 20.
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 Collette Serio, Marilyn Kading Martinez, Robert Kawahara, Alan Rubin, Emma Castro, Jane Godfrey, Sharon Lewis Miller, Mark Zuckman, Dennis Mulcahy, Terry Truong 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. Additional commissioner vacancies exist resulting from the appointments of John Slawson and Anthony Trendacosta and the election of Jacqueline Lewis to judgeships.
Barbara McDaniel, previously a deputy alternate public defender, was elected a commissioner this month. .


Legislation of Interest to the Legal Community

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

AB 60 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, which 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. The bill had first reading Jan. 5 and was referred to the Judiciary Committee Jan. 22.

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. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee Jan. 15.


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