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THE TRIED AND TRUE KOZINSKI ROUTE TO SUCCESS If you clerk for 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, you have nearly a 50 percent chance of going on to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan Law School, Kozinski has sent 25 clerks to the high court since 1989, placing him third among judges nationwide. “I think the justices know that when they come from me, they’ve worked very, very hard the previous year,” Kozinski said. “I only want to hire clerks who’ll work slavishly and have their work torn up as soon as they’re done.” In all seriousness, he added, “I don’t keep track. I’m just very, very happy my clerks are doing well.” A prevailing majority went on to serve with the justices most closely aligned with the 9th Circuit — Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy. They each have hired 10 of Kozinski’s clerks since 1989. Both justices are also considered moderate swing votes. Kozinski clerked for Kennedy when Kennedy was on the 9th Circuit. Other notable surprises from the study: Of the last three 9th Circuit chief judges, J. Clifford Wallace has sent the most — nine. Proctor Hug Jr. hasn’t sent any, while current Chief Judge Mary Schroeder has sent one. Hug, who sits in Nevada, and others from the circuit’s more remote states have something else in common — a paucity of clerks going higher. Andrew Kleinfeld (Alaska) hasn’t sent any. Neither has Stephen Trott (Idaho). Another surprise is the number of clerks that liberal Senior Judge Dorothy Nelson has sent up — eight. She ranks third among all 9th Circuit judges still hearing cases. Retired Judge William Norris sent 16 before he left the court. The two judges with more than Kozinski have each sent 30 clerks upward since 1989 — 4th Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig and D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman. Both, like Kozinski, have conservative reputations. Other 9th Circuit judges of note include Stephen Reinhardt (seven) and Diarmuid O’Scannlain (seven). — Jason Hoppin A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS Some judges find themselves doing double duty these days. It’s all part of the San Francisco Superior Court’s revised assignments and introduction to the courtroom for new judges. Take, for example, Judge Mary Wiss, who has been on the bench a year and half but was recently assigned to felony preliminary hearings. Wiss assumed her new post last week as retired judge Lucy Kelly McCabe, respected for her courtroom savvy, sat next to her as a mentor. Although Wiss was knowledgeable about dealing with misdemeanors, she still had to learn how to preside at a felony preliminary hearing. Veteran defense attorney George Walker said Wiss could have no better teacher than McCabe. “Lucy’s been in the alley and she knows what’s going on,” Walker said. A half-hour later, Wiss was back in her former misdemeanor courtroom to mentor new judge Nancy Davis, who’s just learning how to preside. Wiss sat next to the newbie judge and whispered to her about procedure. “But I don’t tell her how to rule,” said Wiss, who is a former civil attorney — as was Davis before her election to the bench. “There’s a minutiae of criminal law that is critical, and it takes a certain amount of familiarity to do it,” Wiss said. “It’s like understanding the hieroglyphics of the calendar.” Davis said it was valuable “having someone who still remembers clearly what a new judge needs to know.” Next door, baby judge Gail Dekreon assumed her new duties in misdemeanor court with the retired judge Herbert Donaldson sitting next her. “He knows what a new judge has to know,” Dekreon said of the experienced Donaldson. “He points out things, like, ‘no need to do that. Try this’ � Or he’ll say, ‘Just make your ruling.’” Dekreon found herself looking at the world from a different perspective. Before her election in November, her practice was primarily speeding and drunken-driving cases. Then, one of the first matters she encountered on the bench was a reckless driving case involving alcohol. Although Donaldson handled the plea as he sat next to her, Dekreon said her background will help her evaluate such cases that will regularly appear on her calendar. “It’ll help resolve the cases and move the court backlog,” she said. — Dennis J. Opatrny MLK EXTRAVAGANZA After seeing attendance last year of about 400 people, the organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Celebration Dinner in Sacramento looked to the local legal community for a boost this go-around. They got a big one. On Jan. 11, about 1,200 people crowded into the Sacramento Convention Center for a three-hour program devoted to civil rights. Attendees included all 11 Third District Court of Appeal justices, most of the Sacramento Superior and federal benches, district attorneys, public defenders and other members of the Sacramento County Bar Association, which co-sponsored the 4-year-old event. Mark Shusted, a Third District research attorney and immediate past president of the local Bar, says the legal community’s involvement is a natural fit. “Throughout the civil rights movement, lawyers and judges have been at the forefront of expanding and protecting civil rights,” he says. The theme of this year’s dinner was “Keep the Dream Alive,” and part of the program was devoted to the ceremonial retirement of Jackie Robinson’s jersey by Sacramento’s minor league baseball team, the River Cats. The general manager of Robinson’s team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, was a man named Branch Rickey — he also happened to be a lawyer. — Jeff Chorney WRITING ABOUT THE FUTURE Want to know how the federal lawsuits tied to the Oakland “Riders” police scandal will turn out? Don’t dial a psychic friend. Go to the public library. Oakland attorney John Burris and Berkeley lawyer James Chanin represent 119 clients who say that Oakland cops, including the “Riders” — three fired officers who are now on trial for allegedly roughing up suspects, planting evidence and lying in police reports to cover it up — violated their civil rights. The plaintiffs in the federal civil suit want money and police reforms. And, it just so happens that Burris wrote a book about race and police reform that was published in 1999. Someone who wants to peer into the settlement crystal ball might want to look at Chapter 14 of “Blue vs. Black: Let’s End the Conflict Between Cops and Minorities,” a book that Burris penned with Catherine Whitney. In that chapter, Burris lists 10 suggestions for reform: He calls for city leaders to strengthen recruitment standards, to beef up officers’ training on ways to de-escalate tense encounters, to deny promotions to officers that citizens often complain about, to discipline cops who lie, to give incentives to officers who report misconduct and to make community police work a key factor in promotions. “If law enforcement is to abandon the culture that supports misconduct, silence, heavy-handedness and disrespect, a new scaffold must be erected to replace the old,” Burris wrote. In an interview, Burris said the civil settlement that he is negotiating and the book aren’t “1, 2, 3, 4,” identical. But, “the baseline for discussion has been [the book].” “I haven’t read the book,” said Oakland City Attorney John Russo, though he said he had heard about it. Russo, who said a settlement will be announced soon, would include “common sense” changes to police procedures. Both Russo and Burris say the civil suits will probably settle before the criminal case is over. The attorneys who represent the three fired cops in the criminal case expect to begin calling defense witnesses this month. — Jahna Berry GAMBLING BUDDIES Anyone still curious why Bill Lockyer chose not to represent the Fair Political Practices Commission in its suit against the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians might want to look at the program for the attorney general’s inaugural bash. Agua Caliente was first in the alphabetical list of 10 sponsors that bought the food and music for the early January event at Sacramento’s Library Galleria. The tribe contributed $10,000. The gig was held just two days before the first major hearing in Sacramento County court in Fair Political Practices Commission v. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, 02AS04545. The AG’s office declined to see the irony in that timing and has downplayed Lockyer’s refusal to help in the case, even though the FPPC said it wanted his Indian gaming expertise. Neither the AG nor the FPPC would say exactly why Lockyer opted out, citing attorney-client privilege. Asked about a possible conflict of interest, AG spokesman Tom Dresslar pointed out that campaign contributions do not preclude the office from getting involved in an investigation or lawsuit. The FPPC filed the civil action because it believes the tribe was late in reporting millions of dollars in contributions. Agua Caliente says its sovereign status protects it from campaign finance laws. The tribe’s party favors are no surprise, considering it gave Lockyer at least $83,000 for his recent re-election. The Southern California group, like other casino-owning tribes across the state, gives loads of money to politicians. Inaugural weekend, the tribe’s checkbook worked overtime, sponsoring several parties across Sacramento. “The fact that the AG has received campaign contributions from gaming tribes has not prevented him from taking actions adverse to their interests and was not the reason for his opting out of this case,” Dresslar said. — Jeff Chorney

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