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LOS ANGELES-Dual investigations into alleged misconduct against a Los Angeles federal judge have accelerated with the introduction of new legislation and hearings set to begin in coming weeks. The Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has retained a San Francisco attorney to serve as counsel to a special committee investigating a complaint against U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real of the Central District of California. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21. Meanwhile, the 9th Circuit’s initial handling of the complaint prompted House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., to introduce a resolution last month that would create a panel to investigate whether to impeach Real. The judge was accused of seizing control of a bankruptcy matter involving a woman whose separate loan fraud case he was handling. Stephen Yagman, the Venice, Calif., lawyer who filed the initial complaint against Real in 2003, said he never expected the proceedings to go this far. Mushrooming effect “I never asked that the judge be impeached,” he said. “I made a complaint, and the proceedings on the complaint that I made mushroomed into much more than I anticipated.” Mary Schroeder, chief judge of the 9th Circuit, initially dismissed the complaint against Real twice. But in April, a committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States declined to review the matter because Schroeder had failed to follow the proper procedure for convening a special committee to investigate. After that decision, Schroeder assembled the committee. In the last month, investigations surrounding the Real complaint have accelerated amid an increasingly politicized debate about judicial misconduct. To assist in its investigation, the 9th Circuit committee brought in Judith Droz Keyes, a partner at Seattle-based Davis Wright Tremaine and a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Keyes confirmed her involvement but declined to comment. Keyes, who left Morrison & Foerster earlier this year, is the widow of Lt. Donald Droz, a fellow Swift boat commander who fought alongside Senator John Kerry, D-Mass, during the Vietnam War. On July 17, Sensenbrenner introduced his resolution, which is pending before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property. He also co-authored separate legislation that would create an inspector general position for the judicial branch. “When the judicial branch has failed to address serious allegations of judicial misconduct, as the Ninth Circuit arguably has in this matter, the Constitution provides the Congress only one course of action: opening an impeachment inquiry,” Sensenbrenner said. Real’s attorney, Don Smaltz of San Francisco-based Spiegel Liao & Kagay, said that “when we have a chance to cross-examine the sources of this information we’ll be able to demonstrate the falsity of their statements.”

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