A report on where

Disciplinary Case Against Ex-City Attorney Carmen Trutanich Delayed Again …Three Appointments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Are Pending …Two Vacancies Remain on Court of Appeal for This District

Judicial Elections

There are four contests in the Nov. 6 run-off election:
Office No. 4: Deputy District Attorney Alfred A. Coletta and Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Veronica Sauceda.
Office No. 16: Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Patricia (Patti) Hunter and Redondo Beach/Hermosa Beach Senior Deputy City Prosecutor Sydne Jane Michel.
Office No. 60: Deputy District Attorney Tony J. Cho and Deputy Public Defender Holly L. Hancock.
Office No. 113: Deputy District Attorney Javier Perez and Michael P. Ribons, a realtor and attorney.

Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

Philip James Layfield
Suspended Attorney, Accused Felon

Layfield has been released on bail and is presently residing in Delaware.
He is facing trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on charges of mail fraud and money laundering. Trial was initially set for May 15, was continued to Aug. 14, and is now set for Feb. 26. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Layfield’s attorney, Anthony M. Solis, stipulated to the delay, and Layfield waived his speedy trial rights, in light of the voluminousness of government documents and Solis’s trial schedule, and District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald on July 31 gave his assent.
The defendant, apprehended in New Jersey in March and incarcerated until earlier this month, had previously fled to Costa Rica.
The prosecution is in connection with Layfield’s pocketing of settlement funds belonging to Josephine Nguyen, who was a client of the erstwhile law firm of Layfield & Barrett. She was to receive 60 percent of a $3.9 million settlement of her personal injury claim, amounting to $2.3 million.
Layfield was suspended from law practice by the State Bar of California after he failed to show up for his Jan. 24 disciplinary hearing. The State Bar Office of Chief Trial Counsel filed disciplinary charges against him on Sept. 20 alleging that the attorney misappropriated more than $3.4 million from his clients.
Layfield acknowledges moving funds from the attorney-client trust account to his erstwhile firm’s general fund, but insists he thought there was enough money in the coffers to cover the clients’ shares of settlements. He ascribes blame to others, including the State Bar prosecutor.
Solis on Aug. 17 filed an emergency motion for an order modifying the terms of Layfield’s release to permit him to leave his residence to attend classes paving the way for him to obtain a commercial driver’s license so he can seek employment as a truck driver.

Carmen Trutanich
Former Los Angeles City Attorney

Trutanich’s May 2 motion for dismissal of disciplinary charges against him was slated to be heard Sept. 4. The hearing wasn’t held. A status conference was scheduled for last Monday. It wasn’t held.
Proceedings in the matter of Los Angeles’s former city attorney have started and stopped repeatedly, with one trial continuance after another. The initial notice of charges was dated Feb. 9, 2017, and an amended notice was filed July 10, 2017. The motion for a dismissal is now set for Oct. 5.
Trutanich, as the deputy district attorney prosecuting a capital murder case in 1985 and 1986, put on a witness who testified that she witnessed defendant fatally shooting a victim from a van. The witness said she was in a station wagon being driven by one Jean Rivers.
The defendant was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to death in 1986. However, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter last year found that there was prosecutorial misconduct on Trutanich’s part, declaring that “Trutanich’s failure at trial was deeply troubling,” sparking a State Bar investigation.
The Office of Chief Trial Counsel is alleging that Trutanich “knew, or was grossly negligent in not knowing” that the testimony was false insofar as the identity of the driver, whose actual name is Arlene McKay. In failing to divulge the driver’s true identity, as well as her home address, Trutanich breached his constitutional obligation of making disclosures to the defense of potentially exculpatory evidence, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 opinion in Brady v. Maryland, it is asserted.
The charges are that Trutanich:
—By committing a Brady violation, ran afoul of Business and Professions Code §6068(a) (duty to “support the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state”).
—Suppressed evidence “in willful violation of Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 5-220.”
—Committed “an act(s) of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption in willful violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106.”
—By “intentionally or with gross negligence” failing to correct the testimony, “committed an act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption in willful violation of Business and Professions Code §6106.”
Trutanich—who served as city attorney from 2009-13 and is now at Tucker Ellis LLP in Los Angeles—is also charged with allowing a police detective to testify falsely at a pretrial hearing in the same murder case. Trutanich has denied the charges.
He is represented by ethics lawyer David C. Carr of San Diego. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel has three lawyers assigned to the case: Senior Trial Counsel Eli D. Morgenstern, co-counsel Edward O. Lear and deputy co-counsel Caitlin Marie Elen.

Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are seven vacancies on the 29-judge court.
Judge N. Randy Smith assumed senior status Aug. 11.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt died March 29.
Judge Richard C. Tallman assumed senior status on March 3.
Judge Alex Kozinski retired Dec. 18 in the light of misconduct allegations.
Judge Barry Silverman took senior status Oct. 11, 2016.
Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain took senior status Dec. 31, 2016.
Judge Harry Pregerson took senior status Dec. 11, 2015 (and died Nov. 25 of respiratory disease, at the age of 94).
President Donald Trump on Aug. 27 nominated Bridget Bade, a magistrate judge of the District Court for the District of Arizona, to replace Silverman. The nomination is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On July 19, the president named Eric D. Miller of Perkins Coie’s Seattle office, to take Tallman’s spot. That nomination, also, is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Trump, May 15, nominated Ryan Douglas Nelson of Idaho, general counsel for Melaleuca, Inc., to replace fellow Idahoan Smith. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 13 gave its approval, by a vote of 11–10, and the nomination is pending before the full Senate.


There are six vacancies.
Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell died Oct. 8, 2017, at the age of 52.
Judge George H. King retired Jan. 6, 2017.
Judge Christina A. Snyder took senior status Nov. 23, 2016.
Judge Dean Pregerson took senior status Jan. 28, 2016.
Judge Margaret Morrow took senior status Oct. 29, 2015, and subsequently left the bench to become president and chief executive of Public Counsel;
Judge Audrey B. Collins resigned Aug. 1, 2014 to join the state Court of Appeal.
There are no nominees to replace them.
There is an upcoming vacancy; Judge Manuel Real is slated to assume senior status Nov. 4.

Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar retired Aug. 31. No replacement has been named. If Gov. Jerry Brown waits until Oct. 7 to name a successor to Werdegar, an exception will come into play to the normal requirement that the governor make no judicial appointment before receiving the rating of the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, or until 90 days have passed. Under Government Code §12011.5, he would still have to submit the name to JNE, “in order to provide an opportunity, if time permits” for the commission “to make an evaluation.” If Brown were to make a nomination without time for JNE to evaluate the nominee, it is likely the Commission on Judicial Appointments would find time to give its approval; two members of the panel are Brown appointees and allies: senior Court of Appeal Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline, Brown’s one-time legal affairs secretary appointed by him to the bench, and Xavier Becerra, appointed by Brown as attorney general.

Second District

Div. Four: Presiding Justice Norman Epstein retired Aug. 22 and Nora Manella, then an associate justice on the panel, was confirmed Aug. 23 as his successor. With Manella’s elevation, the seat she previously occupied is vacant.
Div. Five: Presiding Justice Paul Arthur Turner of Div. Five died May 18, 2017. The governor’s senior legal advisor, Joshua Grobin, is expected to be named to the seat.
Divs. One, Two, Three, Six, Seven, Eight: There is no vacancy.
Assigned to the Court of Appeal as pro tems are Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Brian S. Currey, Ann I. Jones, Gary I. Micon, Laura A. Seigle, Lisa R. Jaskol and John Shepard Wiley Jr., as well as retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman and Orange Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning.

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court

Judges Rita Miller left the bench on Sept. 11 and Michael K. Kellogg departed on Sept. 14.




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