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COURT: Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals APPOINTED: 2003, by President Bush BORN: April 18, 1934 LAW SCHOOL: Stanford Law School PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: San Francisco Superior Court Bench, 1990-2003 Carlos Bea can breathe a little bit easier now. Not only are his chambers in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals much larger than his old haunt at the San Francisco Superior Court, but he no longer has to wonder what kind of federal judge he’d have made. He’s about to find out. The longtime litigator and dedicated Republican had been on the superior court a little more than a year when the first President Bush tapped him for the Northern District federal bench. His nomination died without a hearing, however, and Bea waited a decade before being offered his current post. The former Olympian is still fit at 69 years old. The white hair, dark complexion and crisp shirts project the dignity of an ambassador. Bea seems to fit right in at the beaux-arts Ninth Circuit headquarters on Seventh and Mission streets. His enormous office is decorated with paintings from his personal collection — portraits and scenes painted in a classical style. Weathered antiques have been imported in a feeble attempt to fill the cavernous space. On the superior court, Bea required decorum in the courtroom. Some lawyers say he can come across as imperious. Maybe, but most agree he also features a sense of humor that he’s not afraid to show. His reputation on the superior court bench was generally good. He handled complex litigation, including two closely watched cases over the use of the gasoline additive MTBE. After months at trial, one of the cases settled for nearly $70 million. In perhaps his most famous order, he issued an injunction prohibiting an employee of Avis Rent-a-Car from making derogatory remarks to or about Latino co-workers. A bitterly divided California Supreme Court upheld the decision over objections that the ruling improperly enjoined speech. Bea faced resistance the first time he was nominated, in part over a series of newspaper articles detailing how he benefited from a minority-owned business enterprise (Bea’s parents are Cuban). But his nomination sailed through this time without so much as a Congressional peep, despite partisan rancor over some of President Bush’s judicial choices. Not one senator voted against him. “I got a hearing this time,” Bea says. “In 1992, I went 14, 15 months without a hearing.” Bea was sworn in recently during a quiet ceremony (a larger investiture will come later) and has been assigned some cases. He’ll likely hear his first arguments in January. “I think he’ll do fine because he’s a real intellect,” said Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold partner Stephen Jones, who has litigated before Bea. “I think it’s a new challenge for him.” Bea will have to change more than just his stationery. As an appellate judge, he’ll be on the bench a lot less. “I undoubtedly will miss trials,” Bea said. “But I think about the excitement in the kind of cases that are heard here.” What he’ll bring to his new colleagues is recent trial court experience. Bea sees that as valuable, recognizing that appeal court judges rely on the record developed below. Bea was born in San Sebastian, Spain, a coastal city in the northern Basque country. His parents moved to Cuba when he was young, and then to the United States. He attended Stanford University (for both his bachelor’s and law school degrees). In 1952, he played for the Cuban Olympic basketball team. He spent more than 30 years as a litigator in San Francisco, mostly at his own firm, before he was tapped for the superior court in 1990. Though he is considered conservative (especially by San Francisco standards), rulings like the Avis Rent-A-Car injunction mark him as one of President Bush’s more moderate picks. Bea’s nomination had the support of La Raza Lawyers and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He was opposed by the National Organization of Women, and other groups said he leaned too far toward business. But those criticisms didn’t take hold. The only Senate Judiciary Committee member to show up for his hearing was the chairman, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Making Bea’s formal introduction to the committee was Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. His nomination was quickly sent to the Senate floor, where he was unanimously confirmed. Bea says he’s looking forward to hearing his first argument as a federal judge. “I think oral argument is very important because it gives the attorney an opportunity to have in insight into what the judges think is important,” Bea said. “I’ve never been bored practicing law — not for one day,” he said. “I’ve been tired, I’ve been angry, but I’ve never been bored.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.therecorder.com/ profiles.html or by calling 415-749-5523.

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