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5 Judges on List for Appellate Court Post

October 22, 1987|JOHN SPANO | Times Staff Writer

Two former prosecutors and a brown belt in karate are among the candidates Gov. George Deukmejian is considering for justice of the 4th Appellate District in Santa Ana.

Five Orange County Superior Court judges confirmed that they have been notified that they are on Deukmejian's short list of candidates for the $93,000-a-year job.

They are Theodore E. Millard, Henry T. Moore Jr., Jerrold S. Oliver, Harmon G. Scoville and James K. Turner. Each has been notified by the state Commission on Judicial Evaluation that he is being considered.

An aide to Deukmejian declined comment, saying office policy forbids release of information about candidates before the governor makes his selection.

Of the five, only Moore is a Deukmejian appointee to the Superior Court bench. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan named Oliver, Scoville and Turner to the Orange County Superior Court. Millard was elected to the bench in 1978.

Moore reflected the sentiments of all the proposed appellate court candidates, saying he's "very flattered to be amongst the finalists."

The commission, whose members are named by the Board of Governors of the California State Bar, has 90 days to evaluate the names.

Personal interviews and opinions of members of the legal community familiar with the nominees are used in screeing, State Bar spokeswoman Ann Charles said.

The commission then rates candidates as exceptionally well qualified, well qualified, qualified or not qualified.

Once Deukmejian has made his final selection, another commission reviews the nominee. It is composed of the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, the state attorney general and the presiding justice of the Court of Appeal on which the candidate would sit.

Thomas G. Beermann, a Deukmejian aide, said nominees typically number "a half-dozen or less." He declined to specify the number nominated for the Santa Ana opening.

Of the nominees, the judge with the longest tenure on the bench is Scoville, who is presiding judge of the Superior Court.

Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas of the state Supreme Court, once Deukmejian's law partner, appointed Scoville to the 21-member state Judicial Council, the primary rule-making authority for state courts.

Scoville, the first Orange County representative on the council in 10 years, heads its court-management committee and is a member of its executive committee.

Known as an effective negotiator, Scoville is familiar with all aspects of judicial administration. He also holds a brown belt in karate.

Turner was named to the bench by Reagan in 1971. He also was an Orange County prosecutor for three years and was on the executive board of the California Judges Assn. in 1981-84.

He has been assigned to preside at the trial of Randy Kraft, accused of killing 37 young men in a 12-year period.

Oliver presides over the civil panel of the Superior Court. He was appointed by Reagan in 1974. With sharp increases in the number of criminal trials in the last year, Oliver's group of judges has been challenged to keep backlogs of civil cases current. In recent years, he has spent more time working with attorneys toward settling cases short of trial.

Oliver presided over discussions that ended in partial settlement of litigation involving a Costa Mesa mortuary being accused of botching cremations and has overseen several deals ending portions of a knot of litigation surrounding the collapse of Heritage Bank, as well as presiding over settlements in complex litigation over the McColl hazardous-waste dump.

Millard, a prosecutor for 10 years, was elected in 1978. Although much of his early practice was in criminal law, Millard has handled a wide variety of cases. He presided over the Fiberite West Coast Corp. case, in which an Orange County firm was accused of allowing runaway chemical reactions that released a cloud of toxic gasses.

Moore, who was named to the bench on June 13, 1984, is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He practiced general civil and trial law, including family, business, real estate and estate planning law.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Fred Woods, who had been considered a strong contender in courthouse circles and was once a law partner of Deukmejian's, said he is not among the candidates.

Woods said he has not applied for the 4th District judgeship and has not been advised that he is under consideration.

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