A report on where

Former Superior Court Judge Schiavelli Nominated to U.S. District Court...Criminal Defense Lawyer Elizabeth Harris Elected Superior Court Commissioner...Runoff for Second Commissioner Post Pits Maren Nelson Against John Murphy

Judicial Elections

There will be nine judicial contests on the March 2 primary ballot:

Office No. 18-Deputy District Attorneys Pat Campbell and Daniel Feldstern, Deputy City Attorney Miguel A. Dager, and Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo are running for the seat being vacated by Judge Marcus Tucker. Campbell's campaign has retained consultant Fred Huebscher; Feldstern's consultant is Renee Nahum.

Office No. 29
- Deputy Attorney General Gus Gomez; Deputy District Attorneys Jeffrey Gootman, Edward Nison, and Lori Jones; Acton attorney Larry H. Layton, who operates an unaccredited law school; and Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack are seeking the seat being vacated by Judge Richard Hubbell. Gomez has retained Parke Skelton as his campaign consultant, while Jones' campaign is being run by Huebscher.

Office No. 52-Deputy District Attorneys Larry Diamond and Laura Priver and Workers' Compensation Judge John Gutierrez are running to succeed Judge Nancy Brown, who is retiring tomorrow. Huebscher is Priver's consultant.

Office No. 53-Deputy District Attorneys David Lopez, Craig Mitchell and Craig Renetzky; Deputy Attorney General Robert Henry; Torrance attorney Michael Shook; and Superior Court Referee D. Zeke Zeidler are running for the seat being vacated by Judge Rosemary Shumsky. Henry has retained Huebscher as his consultant, while Zeidler is being represented by Cerrell Associates Inc.

Office No. 67-Century City attorney Daniel K. Dik is challenging Judge Richard Van Dusen.

Office No. 69-Department of Industrial Relations attorney P. Michael Erwin, Superior Court Commissioner Donna Groman, Deputy District Attorneys Judith L. Meyer and Carol Najera, and Sherman Oaks attorney Mitchelll W. Roth are running to succeed Judge James Wright. Meyer's consultant is Cerrell Associates; Groman has retained Evelyn Jerome.

Office No. 72-Judge David Wesley is being challenged by Deputy District Attorney Daniel Bershin, retired Deputy District Attorney Herb Lapin, and Los Angeles Police Dept. Sgt. Kevin Burke, a former Orange County prosecutor. Wesley's consultant is Cerrell Associates.

Office No. 95
-Judge Daniel T. Oki has drawn three challengers: Deputy District Attorneys Mark Debbaudt and Hilary Anne Rhonan and Encino attorney Eugene Salute. Oki has retained Huebscher to serve as campaign consultant.

Office No. 111-
Judge Chesley McKay is being challenged by Stella Owens-Murrell, an attorney with the Department of Industrial Relations.

Judges, Lawyers Under Scrutiny

Patrick B. Murphy
Former Superior Court judge

State Bar Court Judge Robert Talcott has recommended that Murphy, who resigned from the bench while on the verge of removal in 2001, be disbarred. Murphy did not petition for review of the recommendation by last month's deadline.

Talcott recommended in November that Murphy's right to practice law be lifted due to the ex-jurist's "egregious" misconduct in collecting a judicial paycheck for 120 weeks while on sick leave between 1996 and 2001.

Murphy had asked to enter the State Bar Court's diversion program for lawyers with mental health or substance abuse problems but failed to appear at a hearing to determine his eligibility for that program or for trial on the disciplinary charges. His default was entered and as a result he was placed on involuntary inactive status Aug. 9.
He was also suspended Sept. 16 for failure to pay his bar dues.

Talcott's findings largely tracked those of the Commission on Judicial Performance, which censured Murphy and barred him "from receiving any assignment, appointment, or reference of work from any California state court."

Talcott noted that Murphy was absent from Sept. 20, 1999, until April 3, 2000; stopped working for good as of June 8, 2000; and resigned on May 4, 2001. He chronicled Murphy's activities during the time he was supposedly too sick to work: teaching one or two night law classes a week, serving as an instructor at a Citizen's Police Academy in Baldwin Park, completing pre-med physics and chemistry courses at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, and attending classes at a school of medicine on the island of Dominica in the West Indies from January to April of 2000.

Talcott rejected Murphy's claim that he was indeed ill, suffering from various maladies including a "phobia" regarding judicial service. The medical evidence did not support that contention, the State Bar Court judge said.

Talcott also found that Murphy lied to Rolf Treu, then the presiding judge of the Citrus court, about the state of his health.

Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

There are two vacancies on the 28-judge court.

Republican senators tried in November to move the nomination of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl, but a cloture vote failed by 53-43, seven shy of the necessary 60-vote majority.

The Judiciary Committee on May 8 of last year approved Kuhl, who was rated well-qualified by at least two-thirds of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, by a party-line vote of 10-9. Kuhl was tapped by Bush in 2001 to succeed Judge James Browning, who took senior status Sept. 1, 2000.

President Bush on May 15 of last year nominated William G. Myers III of Idaho to succeed Judge Thomas G. Nelson, who took senior status this past Nov. 14. Myers resigned Oct. 10 as solicitor of the Department of the Interior. A majority of the ABA committee found Myers qualified, with at least six members voting him not qualified.

Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Schiavelli was nominated Jan. 20 to succeed Judge Lourdes G. Baird, who is to take senior status May 12.

Judge Robert J. Timlin is to take senior status in January 2005, a court official said, although formal notice has not been given.

There are no vacancies, but one would be created if the Senate confirms Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to which she was nominated July 25. Brown cleared the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote of 10-9, but an attempt to invoke cloture and force an up-or-down vote on her nomination failed on Nov. 14 by a vote of 53-43, seven short of the required three-fifths majority.

A majority of the American Bar Association's evaluating committee rated Brown "qualified" for the position, with at least six of the 15 members voting her "not qualified."

Second District

Presiding Justice Charles Vogel of Div. Four will retire tomorrow.

Third District

Justice Daniel Kolkey resigned Nov. 17 to return to private practice.

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court

Judge Nancy Brown is retiring tomorrow, giving Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a second vacancy to fill. The earlier opening occurred when Judge Dale Fischer joined the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Nov. 17.

Judge Alan Haber is retiring Feb. 9, Judge Margaret Hay March 31, and Judges John Ouderkirk and Lawrence Crispo on April 5.

Criminal defense attorney H. Elizabeth Harris was elected a commissioner in balloting that ended this month, and will be sworn in about a month from now, a court official said. A runoff election is in progress to fill a second position; the candidates are attorney Maren Nelson and retired Commissioner John Murphy.

The election was necessitated by the Dec. 2 retirement of Commissioner Lonzo Lucas and the Dec. 12 resignation of Richard Novak, who is now in private practice.

Legislation of Interest to the Legal Community

The following legislation of interest to the legal community was acted on in January:

SCA 1, by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, which would amend the state Constitution to establish that "the people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business," and could require superior court executive committees to open their meetings to the public. The proposed amendment was adopted by the Assembly Jan. 12 and was chaptered by the secretary of state Jan. 15, putting it before voters on the November ballot.

SB 246, by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Norwalk, which would authorize a superior court to refer delinquent fines, penalties and restitution to the Franchise Tax Board for collection. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-0 vote Jan. 21, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 13-0 vote Jan. 22, passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote Jan. 28 and was sent to the Assembly.

SB 449, by Escutia, which would provide that when calculating the effective dates of emergency protective orders, days that are court holidays would be excluded. The bill also would declare the Legislature's intent to examine whether court deadlines should be modified when a court is closed for budgetary reasons. The bill was amended Jan. 14, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote Jan. 21, passed the Senate on a 27-7 vote Jan. 26 and was sent to the Assembly.

AB 1432, by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-South Gate, which would eliminate conviction or acquittal in another country as a bar to prosecution or indictment in California and as a defense in a trial based upon the same act or omission. The bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 22-1 vote Jan. 21, passed the Assembly on a 72-2 vote Jan. 26 and was sent to the Senate.

AB 1704, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which would authorize the filing of a notice of support judgment to be recorded by a local child support agency or state agency in family law cases. The bill was amended Jan. 15, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 13-0 vote Jan. 20, and was sent to the Assembly floor.

AB 1709, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which is a spot bill for making changes to the Trial Court Budget Commission. The bill was amended Jan. 15, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 13-0 vote Jan. 20 and was sent to the Assembly floor.

AB 1711, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which would delete obsolete provisions of the State Bar Act. The bill was amended Jan. 15, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 13-0 vote Jan. 20 and was sent to the Assembly floor.

AB 1435, by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, which would add an award of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the list of lawful orders which a court is authorized to make upon a showing that a party in a criminal proceeding has failed to comply with certain disclosure requirements. The bill was amended Jan. 5 and referred to the Assembly Public Safety Committee.




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