May
31,
2002

A report on where
things
stand



Judge Cathey Seeking Disability Retirement...Names of Potential Court of Appeal Justices Sent to JNE Commission...Assistant Attorney General Bybee Nominated for Ninth Circuit Court As Judiciary Committee Approves Hawaii Lawyer for
Earlier Vacancy

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

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.

James Simpson
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge


Simpson's attorney, Edward George, said there has been no word on the preliminary investigation undertaken by the Commission on Judicial Performance into charges against the jurist, who took disability retirement Dec. 10.


SIMPSON

The MetNews learned 16 months ago that Simpson was under investigation on charges that included urging subordinate judicial officers to grant favorable dispositions to traffic offenders who were associated with Simpson politically.

The events in question occurred when Simpson was presiding judge of the Glendale Municipal Court, prior to unificaion.

 

Judicial Elections

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

Candidates for the posts are:

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.

Office No. 39 - Deputy District Attorneys Richard Naranjo and Craig Renetzky face a runoff. Renetzky has retained Fred Huebscher as his consultant. The winner will succeed Judge Richard Spann.

Office No. 67 - State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo faces Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound in the runoff. Consultants working on the campaigns are Huebscher for Gelfound and Garcia-McCoy-Lee for Bacigalupo. The winner will succeed retired Judge David Finkel.

Office No. 100 - Deputy District Attorney Richard Walmark and Workers' Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez face off Nov. 5.

Huebscher is Walmark's consultant, while Mark Siegel is doing Gutierrez's campaign. The winner will succeed Judge Reginald Dunn.


Judiciary: Vacancies, Appointments




Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

President Bush on May 23 nominated Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, a former law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, to fill the Ninth Circuit vacancy created when Judge Procter Hug Jr. took senior status Jan. 1. He became Bush's third nominee for the court.

One of his previous nominees, Hawaii attorney and Republican activist Richard R. Clifton, won unanimous approval from the Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Clifton would succeed Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall, who took senior status Aug. 31, 1997.

There are two other vacancies on the 28-judge court. Judge James Browning took senior status Sept. 1 of last year, and the late Judge Charles E. Wiggins took senior status Dec. 31, 1996.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl was nominated for the Wiggins vacancy at the same time Clifton was nominated, but 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.

President Clinton's nominees for the Hall and Wiggins seats, attorneys Joseph Duffy Jr. of Honolulu and Barry Goode of San Francisco, never received confirmation hearings. Goode now serves as legal affairs secretary to Gov. Gray Davis.


Los Angeles attorneys John Walter and Percy Anderson were confirmed by the Senate to fill two of the six vacancies on the court.

Anderson, a partner in Sonnenschien, Nath & Rosenthal, will succeed Judge Kim Wardlaw, who was elevated to the Ninth Circuit in July 1998. Walter, a partner in Walter, Firestone & Richter, is the successor to Judge John Davies, who retired in July 1998 and is now a private judge.

The remaining 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.

Anderson and Walter were recommended by Gerald Parsky, a West Los Angeles attorney who was President Bush's state campaign chairman and now chairs his judicial selection committee for California. Parsky chose them from a list of candidates submitted by a bipartisan subcommittee chaired by retired Court of Appeal Justice Elwood Lui.

Magistrate Judge Brian Q. Robbins retired Feb. 22.




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.

Fifth District

Fresno Superior Court Judge Gene Gomes faces a confirmation hearing in San Francisco today. If confirmed, he will fill a new position on the court.

Sixth District

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

Seats in other districts are filled.

Los Angeles Superior Court


Gov. Gray Davis on May 22 named attorneys Amy Hogue, Gregory Keosian, and Charles Palmer to the court, leaving 17 vacancies.

Hogue replaces Judge Stephen O'Neill, who passed away last July. Keosian succeeds Judge Patrrick Couwenberg, who was removed Aug. 15 by the Commission on Judicial Performance. Palmer fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Kurt Lewin last Aug. 16.

The most recent openings resulted from the May 10 resignation of Judge Debra Yang, who became U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, and the retirement of Judge Ann Kough May 15.

Judge J.D. Smith retired April 4 and Judge James Albracht April 6.

Judge Jerold Krieger died Feb. 15. Judges Michael Pirosh and John Gunn retired in February. Judges David Finkel and Elvira Austin retired in January.

Five judges who retired last year have not been replaced. Elva Soper left office Oct. 1, David Perez Oct. 6, Richard Charvat Nov. 5, James Simpson-retired for disability-Dec. 10, and Harold Shabo Dec. 31.

Three judges were elevated last year to the Court of Appeal-Laurence Rubin on Oct. 22, Paul Boland on Nov. 21, and Judith Ashmann-Gerst on Dec. 7.

Further vacancies are scheduled with the retirements of Judge Leslie Light tomorrow, Judge Thomas R. Simpson July 1, and Judge Theodore D. Piatt July 31.

The court is without the services of Judge Robert Sandoval, who is suffering from liver cancer; Judge Pamela Rogers, who had neck surgery last October and is tentatively expected to return to her Lancaster courtroom July 1; and Judge Juleann Cathey, who has applied for disability retirement.

Retired Judge Lillian Stevens is filling in for Sandoval in Burbank.

Jane Godfrey, formerly a referee, and Michael Levanas, an attorney in private practice, were elected commissioners earlier this month. A runoff for a third position pits Deputy Federal Public Defender Richard Novak against Referee Guillermina Gutierrez Byrne, with ballots to be tallied next month.

The three new commissioners fill vacancies resulting from the retirements of Commissioners Linda Elliott, Jeffrey Castner, and David Stephens, all on March 31.

Commissioner Ernest Lopez has scheduled retirement for June 24.


Legislation of Interest to the Legal Community

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

AB 1970, by Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Stockton, which would exempt parole officers, probation officers and prison guards from jury duty. The bill was approved by the Assembly on a 61-10 vote May 16, and was referred to the Senate Public Safety and Judiciary committees.

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 May 14 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 5-0 vote, passed the Assembly on a 75-0 vote May 20, and was sent to the Senate.

AB 2104, by Assemblyman Rod Pacheco, R-City of Industry, which would provide that there is no statute of limitations for prosecution for specified acts of terrorism. On a 2-2 vote, the bill failed to pass the Assembly Public Safety Committee on May 7.

AB 2106, by Assemblyman Russ Bogh, R-Yucaipa, which would provide that when multiple criminal offenses occur in more than one jurisdictional territory, and the offenses are part of a single scheme or terrorist attack, the jurisdiction of any of those offenses is in any jurisdiction where at least one of those offenses occurred. The bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote May 7, passed the Assembly on a 71-0 vote May 16 and was sent to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

AB 2211, by Assemblyman Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood, which would provide a procedure for a "representative of the community affected by the crime" to make an impact statement at a criminal sentencing hearing. The bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote May 7, passed the Assembly on a 70-2 vote May 16 and was sent to the Senate Public Safety Committee.

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 require the Judicial Council to file a report with the Legislature on how to protect a public safety official's home information. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 23-0 vote May 23, passed the Assembly on a 72-0 vote May 28 and was sent to the Senate.

AB 2263, by Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, which would require the Judicial Council to study the effectiveness of expanding the Kids' Turn program, which assists children while their parents are in family court obtaining a divorce or legal separation. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 23-0 vote May 15, passed the Assembly on a 72-2 vote May 23 and was sent to 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 Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 24-0 vote May 22, passed the Assembly on May 29, and was sent to the Senate.

ACA 15 , by by Assemblyman Howard Wayne, D-San Diego, a proposed constitutional amendment to delete obsolete references to the municipal courts from the California Constitution. The measure passed the Assembly on a 72-0 vote May 9, and was sent to the Senate.

SB 1316, by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would make numerous changes in the law to account for the abolition of the municipal courts. The bill passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote May 23 and was sent to the Assembly.

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 approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 7-0 vote May 13, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 12-0 vote May 28, and was sent to the Senate 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 approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-1 vote May 2, passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote May 16 and was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1604, by by Sen. Ross Johnson, R-Irvine, which would institute a procedure in which jury commissioners and county elections officials would share information, and election officials would cancel the voter registration of any person who returned a jury summons indicating he or she is not a U.S. citizen. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 12-0 vote May 6, passed the Senate on a 38-0 vote May 16 and was sent to the Assembly Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee.

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 Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-1 vote May 22, and was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1732, by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, which would increase a variety of court fees and parking fines to provide money for courthouse maintenance and construction. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 8-2 vote May 24, passed the Senate on a 24-10 vote May 28 and was sent to the Assembly.



 

 

 


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