April 30,

A report on where

Four Vacancies Remain on Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eight Vacancies on U.S. District Court for the Central District of California...Six Superior Court Judges on Assignment to Court of Appeal

Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

Jeffrey Johson
Court of Appeal Justice

Disciplinary charges have been brought against Johnson, a justice of the Court of Appeal for this district’s Div. One. A public hearing is slated to commence on Aug. 5 at 9 a.m. at the office of the State Bar Court at 845 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles.

According to charges, Johnson has “engaged in a pattern of conduct towards Justice Victoria Chaney” of his division “that was unwelcome, undignified, discourteous, and offensive, and that would reasonably be perceived as sexual harassment or as bias or prejudice based on gender,” uttered an inappropriate comment of a sexist nature to Justice Elizabeth Grimes of Div. Eight, and has otherwise persistently conducted himself in an unacceptable manner toward female judges and attorneys.

He is also accused of appearing to be drunk in public.

Johnson has denied the charges.

Philip James Layfield
Disbarred Attorney, Accused Felon, Truck Driver

Layfield has been released on bail and is presently residing in Delaware. He is facing a Sept. 10 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, 2018, and incarcerated until August of last year, had previously fled to Costa Rica.

Trial was initially set for May 15, was continued to Aug. 14, was set for Feb. 26, and is now scheduled for Sept. 10.

Layfield’s attorney, Anthony M. Solis, on Aug. 17, 2018, 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 could seek employment as a truck driver. The motion was granted and he completed a seven-week course. On Oct. 16, District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the Central District of California granted a motion permitting him to accept employment with a trucking company.

Layfield was suspended from law practice by the State Bar of California after he failed to show up for his Jan. 24, 2018 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. He was disbarred Oct. 27, 2018.

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 four vacancies on the 29-judge court.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt died March 29, 2018. President Donald Trump on Feb. 6 nominated Kenneth Kiyul Lee of the Los Angeles law firm of Jenner & Block to succeed him. On March 13, a hearing on the  nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judge Alex Kozinski retired Dec. 18, 2017, in light of sexual misconduct allegations. The president on Feb. 6 nominated Daniel Aaron Bress of Kirkland & Ellis to take his spot.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain went on senior status Dec. 31, 2016. No replacement has been named.

Judge Harry Pregerson took senior status Dec. 11, 2015 (and died Nov. 25, 2017, of respiratory disease, at the age of 94). Trump on Nov. 13, 2018, nominated Daniel P. Collins, a partner at the Los Angeles firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, to replace Pregerson, and renominated him on Feb. 6.  A hearing on the  nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13.


There are eight vacancies.

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

Judge S. James Otero assumed senior status Dec. 30.

Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell died Oct. 8, 2017, at the age of 52.

Judge George H. King retired Jan. 6, 2017. Trump has designated Mark C. Scarsi of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy to take King’s seat.

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. The president has named Jeremy B. Rosen of Horvitz & Levy to replace Morrow.

Judge Audrey B. Collins resigned Aug. 1, 2014 to join the state Court of Appeal. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld has been nominated to succeed he.

There are no vacancies.

Second District

There are no vacancies.

Serving as pro tems are Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Colin P. Leis, Gregory J. Weingart, Serena R. Murillo, Ann I. Jones, Natalie P. Stone, and Rashida A. Adams, along with retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman and retired Orange Superior Court Judge Kim Garlin Dunning.

 Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles County

There are no vacancies.




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