Dec.
31,
2018

A report on where
things
stand



Grobin Confirmed as California Supreme Court Justice…Commission Approves Elevation of Currey, Wiley to Court of Appeal…Two Vacancies Remain on Los Angeles Superior Court



Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny


Philip James Layfield
Suspended Attorney, Accused Felon, Truck Driver

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.
The prosecution is in connection with Layfield pocketing 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.
The defendant, apprehended in New Jersey in March and incarcerated until August, had previously fled to Costa Rica.
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, with Layfield waiving his speedy trial rights, in light of the voluminousness of government documents and Solis’s trial schedule, District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald on July 31 gave his assent.
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. The motion was granted and he completed a seven-week course. On Oct. 16, Fitzgerald granted a motion permitting him to accept employment with a trucking company. Given that Layfield’s employment necessitates leaving his home, Solis filed a motion on Oct. 20 seeking modification of his bond to delete the home detention/home confinement condition.
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, 2017, 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.


Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments





Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are six vacancies on the 29-judge court.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt died March 29.

Judge Richard C. Tallman assumed senior status on March 3.

Judge Alex Kozinski retired Dec. 18, 2017, 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, 2017, of respiratory disease, at the age of 94).

President Donald Trump on Nov. 13 made three nominations: Daniel P. Collins, a partner at the Los Angeles firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, to replace Pregerson; Patrick J. Bumatay, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, to take Kozinski’s former seat; and Kenneth Kiyul Lee, of the Los Angeles firm of Jenner & Block LLP, to Reinhardt’s post.

Trump on July 19 named Eric D. Miller, of Perkins Coie’s Seattle office, to take Tallman’s spot, and on Aug. 27, nominated Bridget Bade, a magistrate judge of the District Court for the District of Arizona, to replace Silverman. Hearings on the nominations were held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 24.

 

There are seven vacancies.

Judge Manuel Real, 94, assumed senior status on Nov. 4, after 52 years on the bench.

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.

Trump on Nov. 13 nominated Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld to succeed Collins, Jeremy B. Rosen of Horvitz & Levy to replace Morrow, and Mark C. Scarsi of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy to take King’s seat.



Gov. Jerry Brown’s erstwhile senior legal advisor, Josh Grobin, was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on Dec. 21 as a justice of the California Supreme Court. The panel was comprised of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the state’s senior Court of Appeal presiding justice, J. Anthony Kline of the First District.

Second District

There are no vacancies.
The Commission on Judicial Appointments on Dec. 21 confirmed Laurence D. Rubin, a Court of Appeal justice in Div. Eight, as presiding justice of Div. Five, as well as approving the elevations to the Court of Appeal of two Los Angeles Superior Court judges: Brian S. Currey, who now sits in Div. Four, and John S. Wiley Jr., now a member of Div. Eight.
The panel was comprised of Cantil-Sakauye, Bercerra, and the senior presiding justice of this district, Arthur Gilbert.

There are no vacancies on any of the courts of appeal in the state.

 Seats in other districts are filled.


Los Angeles County
 

With the confirmation of Currey and Wiley as justices of the Court of Appeal, there are two vacancies.



 

 

 


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