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New California Supreme Court justices sworn in

Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger were sworn into their California Supreme Court seats today in Sacramento by Gov. Jerry Brown, hours after his own swearing-in for a fourth term.

Brown with Cuellar & Kruger“What I’m looking for is insight and growing wisdom over time so we can create a measure of harmony in what is a very conflicted society,” Brown said at the ceremony. “And I think we are going to do very well in helping build the respect for the law, for the courts, for their independence, so that all of us – whatever our particular ideological or philosophical proclivities – at the end of the day are very thankful that we have honest, intelligent and fair-minded people making sense out of the complexities.”

Brown nominated Cuéllar, 41, of Stanford, in July, and nominated Kruger, 38, of Washington, D.C., in November. Note their relatively young ages: Brown’s appointments potentially will be serving on the state’s highest court for decades to come.

Cuéllar, a Stanford professor since 2001, served as special assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council in 2009 and 2010 and was co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition’s Immigration Policy Working Group in 2008 and 2009.

Kruger served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel from 2013 to 2014; earlier, she served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Solicitor General from 2007 to 2013.

Cuéllar was confirmed in August and Kruger in December by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which is composed of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and senior presiding justice of the state Court of Appeal Joan Dempsey Klein.

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California has a new Solicitor General

An attorney who couldn’t win U.S. Senate confirmation after President Barack Obama nominated him to a federal appeals court seat will be California’s new solicitor general, state Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Monday.

Edward DuMontEdward DuMont, 51, in January will become the state Justice Department’s chief appellate lawyer, overseeing all civil and criminal appeals and litigating the state’s most sensitive, complex cases in state and federal courts. Harris said Californians “will be well served by Ed’s legal acumen and extensive appellate litigation experience.”

DuMont, in Harris’ news release, said he’s honored. “While it will be hard to leave my current clients and colleagues, I look forward to returning to California, joining a new team and working together to build an expanded Solicitor General’s office that we will all be proud of.”

President Obama nominated DuMont in April 2010 and re-nominated him in January 2011 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He would have been the first openly gay federal appeals court judge, but his nomination languished for more than 18 months without the Senate Judiciary Committee ever scheduling a confirmation hearing. DuMont asked Obama to withdraw his nomination in November 2011.

An Oakland native, DuMont grew up in the Bay Area; he holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a law degree from Stanford Law School.

DuMont has been with the firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, D.C., since 2002 and has been a partner there since 2004; he’s now a vice chair of the firms’a appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice group. Earlier, he served seven years as an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General and as an associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department, focusing on computer crime and privacy issues.

He has argued 18 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court on issues including employment law, the First Amendment, criminal law and administrative procedure. He also has been the lead author of dozens of briefs to the high court, and has filed briefs or argued matters in 10 different federal appeals courts.

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Bay Area Council lauds Fed nominee Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business whom President Obama nominated Wednesday to chair the Federal Reserve Bank, was “a thoughtful and engaged member” of the Bay Area Council’s executive committee, the council said Thursday.

Summers withdraws from Fed chief consideration, Janet Yellen considered strong candidate“Janet Yellen provided an incisive voice on economic policy during her tenure with the Bay Area Council,” council president and CEO Jim Wunderman said in a news release. “Janet was an active and valuable leader … providing thoughtful and timely insights on the regional, state and national trends that were shaping our economy leading up to and entering the Great Recession.”

The Bay Area Council is a public policy advocacy organization composed of more than 275 of the nine-county region’s biggest employers. Yellen, 67, served on its executive committee from 2004 to 2010 during her tenure as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

She was a frequent speaker at Bay Area Council conferences and meetings, including an April 2008 address to hundreds of CEOs and leading executives in which she shared her perspectives on the emerging financial crisis that would soon become the Great Recession. She also spoke at the 2006 Outlook Conference, discussing the forces driving the economic boom at the time and the surging housing market.

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State Sen. Jerry Hill tapped to chair enviro panel

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has nominated state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to chair the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

The nomination – to fill the vacancy created by the abrupt resignation of former chairman Michael Rubio, D-Shafter – will be considered Thursday by the Senate Rules Committee.

“During this legislative session, we will tackle multiple pressing policies of major consequence to California’s environment and the quality of life that makes California attractive, competitive, and pioneering,” Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said in a news release. “The Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee will lead the discussion on strengthening the California Environmental Quality Act, on water quality, and on hazardous waste. This heavy agenda promises two momentous years for California’s nationally-renowned leadership on environmental policy.”

Steinberg said Hill’s 13th State Senate District, with both a long stretch of Pacific coastline and a significant chunk of Silicon Valley, “embodies the confluence of economic growth and outstanding natural beauty.

“He is well-positioned to appreciate the complexities of this challenge, and well-versed in the false dichotomy that pitches business against the environment,” Steinberg said. “California has led, and will continue to lead the nation in smart, environmentally sustainable economic growth.”

Hill said he’s honored by Steinberg’s nomination “and I look forward to working collaboratively with him and all of the Environmental Quality Committee stakeholders to protect the environment while ensuring that our laws are aligned with California’s 21st century economy.”

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Obama nominates judge with Bay Area roots

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge who was raised and worked in the Bay Area was nominated to the federal bench today by President Barack Obama.

Troy NunleyTroy Nunley, 48, has served on the Sacramento bench since his 2002 appointment by Gov. Gray Davis; before that he had been a state deputy attorney general since 1999. Earlier, Nunley was an Alameda County deputy district attorney from 1991 to 1994; a sole practitioner from 1994 to 1996; and a Sacramento County deputy district attorney from 1996 to 1999.

He earned a law degree in 1990 from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and a bachelor’s degree in 1986 from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. He’s a 1982 graduate of San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School; a 2002 article in Sacramento Lawyer says he and his three siblings were raised by their mother in public housing projects in San Francisco.

The president nominated Nunley to the U.S. District Court for California’s Eastern District, which includes 34 counties in eastern and central California from Los Angeles County’s northern edge to the Oregon border.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Federal judges are appointed for life, and currently earn a $174,000 annual salary.

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Orinda lawyer named to anti-discrimination panel

An Orinda attorney was named today to the Fair Employment and Housing Commission by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Dale BrodskyDale Brodsky, 60, of Orinda, since 2002 has been a partner at Beeson, Tayer and Bodine – a law firm with offices in Oakland and Sacramento that represents labor unions and collectively-bargained employee benefit plans – where she specializes in representing public school employees and private sector plaintiffs in employment-related matters.

She was associate editor for the California Public Employee Relations Journal from 2000 to 2002, and maintained her own law office from 1997 to 2002. Brodsky was an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law from 1997 to 2001 and a teacher at Ygnacio Valley High School from 1992 to 1996.

Earlier yet, Brodsky was an associate attorney at Saperstein Seligman and Mayeda from 1989 to 1991 and a solo practitioner 1984 to 1988. She served as legal counsel and staff attorney for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing from 1980 to 1983 and as staff attorney for the Fair Employment and Housing Commission from 1978 to 1980.

Brodsky earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Stanford University in 1973; a law degree from the University of San Francisco in 1977; and a single-subject teaching credential from Mills College in 1992.

This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Brodsky is a Democrat.

The seven-member commission is a quasi-judicial administrative agency that enforces California civil-rights laws regarding discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations; pregnancy disability leave; family and medical laws; and hate violence.