Obama Picks Prosecutor For Fed Bench

High-profile U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. has been nominated for a federal judgeship in the L.A.-based Central District of California. He currently is head of a division that works on criminal, civil and tax cases. His nomination by President Obama follows a recommendation by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and faces confirmation by the senate.

Most recently, Birotte’s office led the investigations the brought indictments against California state Senator Ron Calderon on public corruption charges. The story is being reported by public radio station KPCC here.

Follow the reporter, Sharon McNary: @KPCCsharon on Twitter

N.C. Essay Notes CA Juvenile Justice

A Charlotte, NC, newspaper essay is citing a pair of California cases – one famous and historical, the other less famous and current – as examples why and how young African-American men have “skeptical” feelings about the justice system. Corey Arvin, writing in the Black Voice News and carried by The Charlotte Post, asserts that “today’s young African-Americans are not more skeptical of their value” in the justice system, they are just the latest to be aware of that disparity.

Arvin cites recent high-profile national cases like Trayvon Martin and the Michael Dunn “loud music” case, quoting University of California Professor Brenda Stevenson saying “… these aren’t just the opening of new wounds, it’s a combination of fresh and old wounds for African Americans.”

Stevenson is the author of a book about the killing of Latasha Harlins, a; 1991 case from South Los Angeles. She says such cases just continue the generational culture, noting that the Harlins case is among those recalled during events like the Martin trial.

In a state where the judicial system is choosing to close important community courthouses including facilities vital to juvenile justice, the essay should make your weekend reading list. Click here to read the essay.

Bankruptcy, Court Capacity Headline Asbestos Conference

An ongoing North Carolina bankruptcy case cast a 2,413-mile-long shadow across the big Perrin Conference on “cutting-edge asbestos issues” being held in Los Angles this week, with one panelist calling a recent order in the case “the most significant change” in asbestos litigation in a decade, while another said everybody needs to “slow down, take a deep breath and wait for the outcome.”

Court capacity was another hot issue, with conference panelists connecting dots from bankrupt companies to increased caseloads to nearly bankrupt courts. A New York City judge who handles asbestos there warned that there are not enough resources to handle the expected increase, and another panelist pointed out that the average asbestos case take more time than typical civil cases: twice as much time for a judge and four times more time for court staff.The bankruptcy case being talked about in the hallways and across panels is called “Garlock” and involves a North Carolina company and the long shadow comes from a scathing judge’s order that noted issues involving bankruptcy trusts.

Such court-approved trusts are set up to pay ongoing claims, and the judge found that some firms are apparently withholding evidence during litigation but still filing against the trust. Such evidence of other asbestos exposures can be vital to a defendant trying to prove they were either not at fault or at lesser fault.

The Perrin Conference continues today (Tuesday, March 18) at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with California asbestos judges from both Los Angeles and San Francisco scheduled to participate. (Programming note: The CCM is staffing the conference will post an original summary of the conversations later this week. Publisher Sara Warner has also published her take on the Garlock issue in the Huffington Post.)

CCM Publisher Warns Of ‘Perjury Pawns’

Writing in the Huffington Post, CCM Publisher Sara Warner notes that a recent bankruptcy case is rocking the world of civil asbestos litigation, one of the leading case-issues in California and nationwide. A federal judge’s order lists problems with the specific case, including “disappearing” of evidence and testimony that seems to contradict other sworn statements involving dozens of bankruptcy trusts. But, she notes, what about the victims? Read the HuffPo piece here.

U.S. Chief Justice Warns Court Cuts Imperil Entire System

In his Dec. 31 “state of the judiciary” report, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. blasted not only the high-profile mandatory budget “sequestration” cuts, but noted that funding has been an issue for more than a decade. While much of the focus was on criminal court challenges, like paying for public defenders, the Chief Justice also noted that “… reductions have created widespread delays in civil and bankruptcy cases.” Over time, he said, these delays will give rise to “commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities and unvindicated rights.”

Here’s The New York Times coverage of the report: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/us/politics/budget-cuts-imperil-court-system-chief-justice-says.html?_r=0