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Brown names DiFi’s daughter to state Med Board

Katherine Feinstein – a former San Francisco County Superior Court judge, and daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – was appointed Wednesday to the Medical Board of California by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Katherine FeinsteinFeinstein, 58, of Kentfield, served in several positions within San Francisco’s courts from 2000 to 2013, including presiding judge, assistant presiding judge, supervising judge for the Unified Family Court, and trial judge for the criminal, civil, family law and juvenile delinquency divisions.

She was supervising attorney for family and children’s services at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2000; director at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice from 1994 to 1996; an attorney in private practice from 1991 to 1994; and an associate at Carroll, Burdick and McDonough LLP in 1989. She also worked as a San Francisco assistant district attorney from 1985 to 1988.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Feinstein earned her law degree from the UC Hastings College of the Law. She is a Democrat.

The Medical Board of California licenses and regulates physicians and surgeons and enforces the state’s Medical Practice Act. Members are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the state Senate, and while serving receive a $100 per diem.

Upon announcing her retirement in 2012, Feinstein had told the San Francisco Chronicle that she would do something in public service, which could range from helping set up effective judicial systems in Africa to running for office

“Of course I’ve thought about politics. I was born thinking about politics,” she said at the time. “It’s something I’ve always shied away from. Whether I continue to shy away from it would depend on the position at this point.”

But in 2014, when asked by NBC Bay Area if she would ever consider running for office, she reaffirmed her decision to remain a private citizen. “I don’t think campaigns always bring out the best in people.”

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Brown’s judicial shuffle might enable House run

In a somewhat unusual move, Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a Bay Area judge – who has a familiar name – to another county’s bench, perhaps in order to help facilitate her husband’s planned run for Congress.

Carrie McIntyre PanettaCarrie McIntyre Panetta, appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court bench in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was named to the Monterey County Superior Court bench Thursday by Brown.

Panetta, 46, is the daughter-in-law of former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director Leon Panetta; her husband, James Panetta, is a deputy district attorney who moved from Alameda County to Monterey County in 2010.

James Panetta – a former Navy Reserve intelligence officer who was awarded the Bronze Star for his 2007-08 deployment to Afghanistan – earlier this year said he’s interested in succeeding Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, in representing California’s 20th Congressional District.

Carrie Panetta was an Alameda County deputy district attorney from 1999 to 2007 and an associate at Brobeck Phleger and Harrison LLP from 1992 to 1999. A Democrat, she holds a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Monterey County Superior Court Judge Terrance Duncan. A superior court judge’s annual salary is $178,789.

UPDATE @ 3:02 P.M.: Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said he would leave it to Judget Panetta to explain the move, and acknowledged it’s not common for a judge to be re-appointed from one county’s superior court to another’s. A voice-mail message left at Panetta’s courtroom in Oakland has not yet been returned.

UPDATE @ 10:35 A.M. FRIDAY: “We’re excited, very excited about the appointment and the move,” Judge Panetta said Friday morning, noting her husband has been working in the Monterey County District Attorney’s office since 2010. “It was really to get the family back together full-time … we had decided we want to make the Monterey peninsula our home, raise our girls there.”

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Out of the Assembly and onto the bench

Gov. Jerry Brown today named former Assemblywoman Alyson Huber to the Sacramento County Superior Court bench.

Alyson HuberHuber, 40, a Democrat from El Dorado Hills, served in the Assembly from 2008 through earlier this month, representing what had been the 10th Assembly District.

She was an associate at Bartko Zankel Tarrant and Miller from 2003 to 2008; an associate at Oppenheimer Wolff and Donnelly LLP from 2000 to 2003; and an associate at Phillips and Spallas LLP from 1999 to 2000.

Huber holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University. She fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on March 19, 2012. Superior Court judges earn an annual salary of $178,789 – a hefty raise from the current Assembly salary of $90,526.

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Bay Area judicial nominees get Senate hearing

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing today for two Bay Area nominees to the federal bench.

President Obama just one month ago nominated Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Tigar and Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Orrick III to the U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District.

Per my colleague’s story at the time, Orrick, 59, has been in the Justice Department’s civil division since 2009. He is the son of a prominent San Francisco federal judge, William Orrick II, who died in 2003. The nominee previously worked more than two decades for the San Francisco law firm Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass.

Tigar, 49, has been an Alameda County judge since 2002, when he was put on the bench by former Gov. Gray Davis. He was a civil litigator for another San Francisco law firm, Keker & Van Nest, before taking a judgeship.

You can watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing here; it actually starts at about 16:44, with Sen. Barbara Boxer’s introduction of the California nominees at about 19:48 and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s at 25:43. Tigar introduces himself at 34:27, and Orrick at 36:23.

If confirmed, these are lifetime appointments. A district court judge currently earns an annual salary of $174,000.

Read Boxer’s introduction of the nominees, after the jump…
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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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Judge poised to nix attack on ‘top-two’ primary

California can proceed with its new “top-two” primary system, an East Bay judge tentatively ruled today, sustaining the state’s objection to a lawsuit filed by a group of minor parties and their voters.

In his tentative ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Appel said the arguments made in the lawsuit filed last fall are the same ones that failed to convince the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court that Washington’s version of the law should be overturned.

A hearing on the tentative ruling is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Oakland.

The lawsuit, filed in November on behalf of the Green Party of Alameda County, the Libertarian Party of California, the Peace and Freedom Party of California and eight minor-party voters, argues Prop. 14 “effectively denies voters their fundamental right of choice by precluding small party candidates from the general election ballot,” thus violating the First and 14th amendments.

The general election is “the moment when the highest number of voters are engaged in the electoral process,” the suit says, and so the new law severely burdens voters’, candidates’ and parties’ rights without any compelling or even significant state interest.

But Appel wrote Monday that unless the plaintiffs can amend their complaint in the next few weeks to present new arguments, the system will stand.

Appel said the first part of the lawsuit seems to be a “facial challenge” to Prop. 14 – challenging the general framework – rather than an “as applied” challenge that questions some manner in which the new law is being implemented in a discriminatory or unreasonable way.

But the 9th Circuit earlier this year “considered and rejected the same broad challenge” that the plaintiffs are making in this case, the judge wrote. “Among other things, the Court held that ‘because [the law] gives major- and minor-party candidates equal access to the primary and general election ballots, it does not give the “established parties a decided advantage over any new parties struggling for existence.”’”

Arguing that participation in the general election isn’t equivalent to participation in the primary election; that general-election ballot access is essential for minor parties seeking to qualify in future elections; and that California doesn’t have sufficient regulatory interests to impose this new system “are legal assertions that are inconsistent” with the 9th Circuit’s ruling in the Washington case, Appel wrote.

And Appel wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 held that a statute like Washington’s – and now, like Prop. 14 – that allows an open primary in which candidates identify themselves on the ballot by a self-designated party preference doesn’t unconstitutionally interfere with a political party’s rights of association or speech.

Michael Siegel, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said Monday he’s disappointed that Appel deferred to a 9th Circuit ruling that the plaintiffs have argued was in error. “Big picture, this is something that needs to get sorted out at a higher level, either at the California Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court,” Siegel said.

Siegel acknowledged that even if he were to convince Appel at tomorrow’s hearing to completely reverse this tentative ruling, “nothing could be done in terms of the June election, but something could be done for November” – that is, if the court struck down the top-two system, it could let minor parties hold conventions this summer or fall to nominate candidates for addition to the general-election ballot.

But given Appel’s tentative ruling, Siegel said, “practically speaking, what’s really at stake now is 2014.”

UPDATE @ 4:06 P.M. TUESDAY: Appel heard arguments on his tentative ruling this morning and took the case under submission; he’ll probably file a permanent order – most likely along the lines of his tentative ruling – in the next few days. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 10.