A report on where

Swearings-in Slated for New Los Angeles Superior Court Judges...Bill to Restrict Posting of Judge's Personal Information on Internet Advances... Judge Reginald Dunn Likely to Retire Near End of Year

Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

Vicki M. Roberts
Attorney and former Superior Court candidate

Roberts, who lost a runoff to David Mintz for an open seat on the Superior Court in November 2000, was charged last May with misdemeanor counts of arson and conspiracy in connection with an alleged arson-for-profit scheme.


Roberts told the METNEWS that the allegations are false, and that she has "never seen" the building in question.

Roberts' home was searched in December 1998, pursuant to a warrant. Investigators removed about 45 boxes of documents, including records Roberts claims are subject to the attorney-client and work-product privileges.

Roberts, who is represented by Los Angeles attorney Richard Sherman, demurred to the complaint. The demurrer is pending, as is a motion to disqualify the District Attorney's Office for conflict of interest.

Roberts has also sued the city of Los Angeles and the District Attorney's Office, claiming the search of her home violated her civil rights. U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson dismissed the action, based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibiting lower federal courts from interfering in state judicial proceedings.

In her appeal, which is currently pending before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Roberts argues that an exception to the doctrine applies because she was not given a full and fair hearing on her constitutional claims in state court.

Judicial Elections

Four Los Angeles Superior Court judges will be elected Nov. 5 in runoff elections.

Office No. 2 - Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg faces Santa Monica lawyer Joseph Deering, running as an "Eldercare Attorney."

Deering is using the services of Crotty Consulting of San Diego. The winner will succeed retired Judge Michael Pirosh.

DEERING                        GOLDBERG

> Office No. 39 - Deputy District Attorneys Richard Naranjo and Craig Renetzky face a runoff for the seat of Judge Richard Spann, who did not run for reelection. Naranjo will be listed on the Novermber ballot as "Criminal Prosecutor," Renetzky-who recently began teaching at Valley College-as "Prosecutor/Law Professor." Fred Huebscher is his consultant.

RENETZKY                       NARANJO

Office No. 67 - State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo faces Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound in the runoff. Bacigalupo's ballot designation of "Judge, State Bar" has been challenged, with a writ hearing in the Court of Appeal scheduled for Sept. 10. Gelfound will be listed on the ballot as "Criminal Prosecutor." Consultants working on the campaigns are Huebscher for Gelfound and Garcia-McCoy-Lee for Bacigalupo. The winner will succeed retired Judge David Finkel.

BACIGALUPO                    GELFOUND

Office No. 100 - Deputy District Attorney Richard Walmark, designated as "Criminal Prosecutor," and Workers' Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez, who will be listed as "Administrative Law Judge," face off Nov. 5. Gutierrez wanted to be listed as "Judge, Administrative Law" but was turned down by the county registrar and will have the designation he used in the primary.

GUTIERREZ                      WALMARK

Huebscher is Walmark's consultant. The winner will succeed Judge Reginald Dunn, who is expected to retire in mid-December to become a private judge.

Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are four vacancies on the court, the most recent being a result of Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez taking senior status June 1. Judge James Browning took senior status Sept. 1 of last year, Judge Procter Hug Jr. on Jan. 1 of this year, and the late Judge Charles Wiggins on Dec. 31, 1996.

Two nominations are pending.

President Bush on May 23 nominated Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, a former law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Bybee is Bush's third nominee for the court.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl was tapped by Bush last year. Kuhl has not received a confirmation hearing, reportedly because Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer will not sign a "blue slip." Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has declined to schedule confirmation hearings for judicial nominees without the approval of both senators from a nominee's home state.

Kuhl, 48, is a six-year veteran of the Superior Court bench. She previously served in the U.S. Department of Justice as a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, and worked in the office of the solicitor general during the Reagan administration.

She clerked for Anthony J. Kennedy, then a Ninth Circuit judge, after graduation from Duke University School of Law.

President Bush on July 18 nominated Los Angeles Superior Court Judges S. James Otero and Gary Klausner to fill two of the four vacancies on the court.

The vacancies resulted from Judge Carlos Moreno's confirmation as a California Supreme Court justice Oct. 17 of last year, Judge J. Spencer Letts taking senior status Dec. 19, 2000, the elevation of Judge Richard Paez to the Ninth Circuit in March 2000, and Judge William Keller's taking senior status Oct. 29, 1999.

There are no vacancies.

This District (Second District)

There is one vacancy in newly created Div. Eight. The names of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Charles Lee, Richard Rico, and Aurelio Munoz have been sent to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation as potential appointees to the post.

Fourth District

Divs. One and Div. Two each have a vacancy created by SB 1857, which took effect Jan. 1 of last year. Div. Three has a vacancy created by the June 1, 2001 retirement of Justice Thomas Crosby.

Sixth District

Presiding Justice Christopher Cottle retired Aug. 31 of last year. Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian is the acting presiding justice.

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court

The governor named nine judges this month.

Kelvin D. Filer, Steven P. Sanora, and Thomas R. White, all formerly commissioners, were named on Aug. 8 and sworn in immediately. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Nguyen was tapped by the governor on Aug. 13 and state Deputy Attorney General Tammy Chung Ryu on Aug. 16.

Four choices were announced on Aug. 23-private practitioners Mark Juhas and Steven Kleifield, Deputy Attorney General Christine Olmedo, and UCLA professor John Shepherd Wiley.

Nguyen has already taken the oath of office. Olmedo is scheduled to be sworn in Sept. 4, Ryu Sept. 6, Kleifield Sept. 9, Juhas Sept. 16, and Wiley Sept. 20.

Filer succeeded Judge Richard Charvat, who retired Nov. 5 of last year; Sanora and White replaced Paul Boland and Judith Ashmann-Gerst, both of whom were elevated last year to the Court of Appeal, and Nguyen filled the seat left vacant by the April 6 retirement of Judge James Albracht. Ryu succeeds Judge Jerold Krieger, who died Feb. 15.


Juhas is the successor to Judge Harold Shabo, who retired at the end of last year. Kleifield takes the seat of Judge James Simpson, granted disability retirement Dec. 10, Olmedo replaces Judge Elvira Austin, who retired in January, and Wiley succeeds Judge John Gunn, who retired in February.

There remain nine vacancies.

Judge Theodore D. Piatt retired July 31, Judge Thomas Simpson retired July 1, Judge Juleann Cathey was granted disability retirement at the end of June, Judge Leslie Light retired June 1, Judge Debra Yang resigned May 10 to become U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, Judge Ann Kough retired May 15, Judge J.D. Smith retired April 4, Judge Michael Pirosh retired in February, and Judge David Finkel retired in January.

Further vacancies are scheduled with the retirements of Judges David Horowitz Sept. 4, Robert Letteau Sept. 10, William Garner Sept. 24, and Alban Niles Oct. 4. Judge Reginald Dunn is expected to retire in mid-December.

Judge Michael Kanner's term expires Jan. 6. Kanner, who did not run for reelection, will be succeeded by Deputy District Attorney Lauren Weis, who won the seat in the March primary.

Judge Richard Spann is also slated to leave office Jan. 6. Deputy District Attorneys Richard Naranjo and Craig Renetzky are in a runoff for the seat. Runoffs are also slated to choose successors to Finkel, Dunn, and Pirosh.

The court is without the services of Judge Robert Sandoval, who is suffering from liver cancer but has said he expects to return to the bench, and Judge Pamela Rogers, who had neck surgery last October. Retired Judge Lillian Stevens is filling in for Sandoval in Burbank.

Newly appointed Judge Thomas V. White has been assigned to Rogers' Lancaster courtroom "for the foreseeable future," North District Supervising Judge Steven D. Ogden said. Ogden said he had no idea when Rogers might return.


Sherman Oaks practitioner Michael Convey won a runoff election this month to succeed retired Commissioner Ernest Lopez, and will be sworn in next month. Balloting to replace the three commissioners named this month as judges began Aug. 19 and will conclude Sept. 13.

Legislation of Interest to the Legal Community

The following legislation was acted upon by the Legislature in August:

AB 2055, by Assemblyman Robert Pacheco, R-City of Industry, which would eliminate the "work product" protection for lawyers "when a lawyer is suspected of crime or fraud in any official investigation or proceeding or action brought by a public prosecutor ... if the services of the lawyer were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit a crime or fraud." The bill was approved by the Senate on a 39-0 vote Aug. 27 and was sent to the Assembly0.

AB 2211, by Assemblyman Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood, which would require the Judicial Council to study the potential effects of a policy requiring courts to consider community impact statements at criminal sentencing hearings. The bill passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote Aug. 14, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 12-1 vote Aug. 26, cleared the Senate on a 31-4 vote Aug. 26, and was sent to the governor Aug. 27 after the Assembly approved Senate amendments.

AB 2238, by Assemblyman Richard Dickerson, R-Redding, which would prohibit any person from knowingly posting personal information about a judge or other public official - or the official's spouse or child - on the Internet knowing that person is an elected or appointed official and intending or threatening imminent physical harm to that individual. It also would create a task force to study how to protect a public safety official's home information. The bill was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-0 vote Aug. 7, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 9-1 vote Aug. 22, passed the Senate on a 31-0 vote Aug. 27 and was sent to the Assembly.

AB 2263, by Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, which would require the Judicial Council to study the effectiveness of expanding a program which assists children while their parents are in family court obtaining a divorce or legal separation. The study could use up to $50,000 from the Judicial Council's budget. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 7-3 vote Aug. 22, was approved by the Senate on a 24-10 vote Aug. 27 and was sent to the Assembly.

AB 2470 , by Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, which would allow hearsay evidence of a statement made by a minor under 12 years old who is the subject or victim in certain types of cases. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-0 vote Aug. 12, was approved by the Senate on a 25-5 vote Aug. 21 and was sent to the governor Aug. 23 after the Assembly approved amendments made in the Senate.

AB 2690 , by Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, D-Turlock, which would require the Judicial Council to select a superior court in each of five counties to provide the state auditor with annual financial statements. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-0 vote Aug. 7 and was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1316, by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would make numerous changes in the law to account for the abolition of the municipal courts. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 23-0 vote Aug. 8, passed the Assembly on a 76-0 vote Aug. 21 and was returned to the Senate for a vote on Assembly amendments.

SB 1396, by Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, which would enact the Superior Court Law Enforcement Act of 2002, which among other things would require the presiding judge of any county to develop an annual court security plan. The bill was amended Aug. 24 and is pending on the Assembly floor.


SB 1459, by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Monterey Park, which, among other things, would make any person who has resigned from the State Bar, regardless of whether charges were pending, guilty of a crime if that person advertises or holds himself out as being entitled to practice law. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 23-0 vote Aug. 8, passed the Assembly on a 77-0 vote Aug. 19 and was sent to the governor.

SB 1628, by Sen. Byron Sher, D-San Jose, which would require a court to award reasonable attorney's fees to an attorney general, district attorney or city attorney who prevails in a civil action to enforce an environmental law. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 23-0 vote Aug. 8, passed the Assembly on a 78-0 vote Aug. 15 and was sent to the governor.

SB 1732, by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, which would provide that counties are responsible for providing suitable court facilities, while the state is responsible for funding court operations. The bill was amended Aug. 24 and is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


SB 1897, by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, which would provide that the chief trial counsel of the State Bar shall serve under the Regulation, Admission, and Discipline Oversight Committee of the State Bar Board of Governors. The bill passed the Assembly on a 72-4 vote Aug. 19, passed the Senate on a 39-0 vote Aug. 20 and was sent to the governor.




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