Assistant U.S. Attorney Lewis Davis was tapped Monday to join the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench later this month, making him part of a succession of federal prosecutors to make that jump in recent years.

Davis became the third member of U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan’s staff sent to the Contra Costa court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, following John “Jack” Laettner and Charles “Ben” Burch, who were appointed in the last two years. Contra Costa Judges Theresa “Terry” Canepa, Harlan Grossman and John Kennedy have also served in the Northern District U.S. attorney’s office before.

It’s been something of a long wait for Davis, 57, who first tried applying to the Contra Costa County Municipal Court 10 years ago. A Republican, Davis graduated from McGeorge School of Law and worked for six years as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County. In 16 years as a federal prosecutor, Davis served as member of the organized crime drug enforcement task force, and was also a training director for the U.S. attorney’s office under Robert Mueller, the current director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Of four others selected Monday for other courts, three are Republicans and one registered declining to state a party. Local prosecutor Edward Bullard will join the Santa Barbara County bench, while civil litigator Carolyn Caietti and federal prosecutor Laura Parsky will become judges in San Diego County. James Rogan, a former congressman who once served as director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will fill an Orange County seat in October.

Matthew Hirsch


It will soon be up to the Ninth Circuit to decide whether the U.S. Department of Justice can stop a suit against AT&T by customers accusing the phone company of illegally granting government access to private communications.

In an unsurprising move Monday, the government and AT&T appealed a July 20 ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker, who had refused to dismiss the case despite government arguments that it should not proceed because it would reveal state secrets necessary for maintaining national security.

Walker, the chief judge of the Northern District of California federal court, said that because the government’s secret wiretapping program was well-known to the public � thanks largely to a series in the New York Times last year � the state secrets privilege may not apply.

The government had tried to bolster its case by giving Walker access to classified documents.

With a handful of similar suits in federal courts around the country, there was speculation last week that the government would wait to appeal until after the cases were consolidated, perhaps avoiding the Ninth Circuit.

But the appeal was ultimately filed a few days after the federal multidistrict litigation panel heard arguments Friday � when the government said the case should go to a Washington, D.C., district court, whereas plaintiffs said the cases should be consolidated in San Francisco.

Lawyers for AT&T and the government couldn’t be reached by press time. Reed Kathrein, a partner at Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman & Robbins who is representing the plaintiffs, said he’s not sure how consolidation will affect the appeal.

Having an appealed case up for consolidation “is a rare situation,” he said. “I’ve never been in one where the government’s been on the other side. I’ve never seen one where a case that’s already been appealed is pending.”

Justin Scheck

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