Lucky us. Across this fine nation, there are 84 vacancies in federal courts, 68 in U.S. District Courts, and 16 on U.S. Courts of Appeal, according to the fine folks at Courthouse News Service. If you've been following judicial appointments at all in the past couple years, you'll recognize that even when an appointment is made, the Senate refuses to confirm.
Good old gridlock.
Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell finally cleared that gridlock on her second trip through the Senate confirmation process, by a vote of 92-0. That unanimous margin itself illustrates how uncontroversial her appointment was and how ridiculous things are in Washington D.C. The American Bar Association rated her "Unanimously Well Qualified" as well.
The now-District Court Judge fills the final vacant seat in the Central District of California which was vacated by U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank, who assumed senior status in March 2012.
So who is this fabulous face amongst the Los Angelinos? She's not exactly unfamiliar to the locals, as she has been a Superior Court judge since 2005. Prior to that, she was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles' Central District for 10 years, according to Judgepedia.org.
She's also a Bruin (that's an alum of the University of California at Los Angeles for you non-locals). She earned her J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1990, graduating magna cum laude.
Senator Diane Feinstein's statement on her nomination provides some more goodies on her background. She began her legal career at MoFo (Morrison & Foerster) handling complex civil litigation for five years before deciding that litigation was boring (our guess) and moving to the federal prosecutors' office. While there, she prosecuted high-ranking members of drug cartels and some angry person who tossed Moltov cocktails at a car dealership.
Since joining the bench, she has presided over 150 jury trials, thousands of cases, and served as Assistant Supervising Judge for the North Valley District of the Superior Court. Somehow, she's also found time to teach Trial Advocacy at Pepperdine and Loyola Law School.
Her time management skills should come in handy in clearing the any backlog that has resulted from the Senate's refusal to confirm judicial appointments.
- O'Connell, Dorsey Nominated to U.S. District Court (Pepperdine Law)
- Details on 9th Circuit's New Appellate Mentoring Program (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)
- Why is Judge Richard Cebull Retiring? (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)