Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today nominated Chuck Poochigan, the former state Senator from Fresno and the 2006 GOP nominee for state Attorney General, to the California Court of Appeal’s Fifth District. And so soon after having a highway named after him!
Poochigian, 60, has been an attorney with Fresno-based Dowling, Aaron and Keeler since November 2007. Earlier, he’d represented the 14th State Senate District from 1998 to 2006, and the 29th Assembly District from 1994 to 1998. He’d been Gov. Pete Wilson’s appointments secretary from 1991 to 1994, and Gov. George Deukmejian’s chief deputy appointment secretary from 1988 to 1991.
Earlier yet, Poochigian was an attorney in solo practice from 1975 to 1981, and a partner at Vartabedian and Poochigian from 1975 to 1981. He holds a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Fresno.
California appellate court nominees must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of California Chief Justice Ronald George; Attorney General Jerry Brown (who won his post by defeating Poochigian in 2006); and the senior presiding justice of the Court of Appeal of the affected appellate district – in this case, James Ardaiz.
But before a candidate is nominated by the governor, his or her qualifications are reviewed by the California State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Los Angeles attorney Roger Grace, who publishes a legal newspaper called the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, wrote a column a few days ago claiming the JNE found Poochigian “not qualified,” but I’m not sure how he could know that given the JNE’s confidentiality rules:
The commission reports its recommendations, in absolute confidence, to the Governor. The rule “. . . prohibits disclosure of any information of any nature to anyone. . .” except as otherwise provided by the statute. The commission does inform a candidate who has been found not qualified of that fact.
The only other exception is if the Governor appoints a person to a trial court who has been found not qualified, the State Bar may make this fact public after due notice to the appointee of its intention to do so.
When the Governor nominates a person to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, the JNE Commission submits its recommendation, and the reasons for such recommendation, to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and appears at the public hearing to present its recommendation and reasons.
So I guess we’ll know the truth of it when CJA holds its public hearing.
At any rate, I guess Poochigian probably won’t be needing the $68,000+ he has in his campaign committee account for the 2010 Attorney General’s race.