October's Federal Power Lunch
On October 5, 2012, the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted the second Federal Court Power Lunch in the country. A Power Lunch is a program for high school students who come to the courthouse to meet judges and lawyers and to learn about the law and the legal profession. A number of WLALA Board members, including myself, Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Beverly Reid O’Connell, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Nicole Bershon, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nili Moghaddam and Cathy Ostiller participated in the program. Other WLALA members who participated in the program were Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jacqueline Nyugen and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner.
Approximately 40 cadets from the Los AngelesPoliceAcademy attended the Power Lunch, which was held in the RoybalBuilding. In addition to the judges mentioned above, District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald, Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal and Magistrate Judge Michael Wilner, and Bankruptcy Judges Scott Clarkson and Erithe Smith were enthusiastic participants in the program. And, many other attorneys, bankruptcy court law clerks and externs participated in the program and helped make the program a success.
Circuit Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen kicked off the program by introducing the guest speakers, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte and U.S. Marshal David Singer. U.S. Attorney Birotte is “top prosecutor” in this District and is responsible for representing the federal government in all litigation in federal courts, including criminal prosecutions for violations of federal law, civil litigation by and against the government, and actions to collect judgments and restitution on behalf of victims and taxpayers. And, U.S. Marshal David Singer, is the “top federal law enforcement official” responsible for protecting everyone involved in the federal judicial process, including all federal judges, the U.S. Attorney, all Assistant U.S. Attorneys, court personnel, jurors, prisoners and the public.
District Court Judge Fitzgerald and Magistrate Judge Segal welcomed the cadets and provided information about the Central District and the different types of civil and criminal cases that are filed in district court. I also welcomed the cadets and provided a brief explanation about the bankruptcy system and noted that the Central District of California has the most Bankruptcy Judges in the country and it has the largest number of bankruptcy cases filed in the country: last year there were more than 140,000.
I then introduced each judge and provided some fun facts about the judges. Guess which Bankruptcy Judge wanted to be a bat boy for a major league baseball team. (Please see below for the answer to this question).
During the Power Lunch, which was generously sponsored by WLALA, the judges, lawyers and other volunteers and cadets sat at tables named for the nine sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justices as well as some noteworthy former Supreme Court Justices. The Bankruptcy Court staff created a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of the Judges and a wonderful set of “Justices cards” that contained pictures of sitting and noteworthy U.S. Supreme Court Justices on one side and important information about each Justice on the other side.
The lunchtime discussion included general legal topics and helped prepare the cadets for a game of “Legal Jeopardy” that was enjoyed by all. The Legal Jeopardy game, which is played like a traditional Jeopardy game, has categories including “Judges and Lawyers”, “Trials”, “Bill of Rights”, “Think Like a Lawyer”, and “Who’s Who in the Courtroom”. The cadets had a great time answering the questions and learning about the law and the legal profession.
At the end of the Power Lunch, I thanked everyone for participating and gave a heartfelt thank you to Lindsay Audette and WLALA for sponsoring the lunch and providing the refreshments. I also thanked the members of the Bankruptcy Court staff who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the second Federal Court Power Lunch a wonderful, noteworthy event.
SPOILER ALERT: I wanted to be a bat boy for a major league baseball team and if you guessed the Boston Red Sox, you would be correct!
Hon. Sandra Klein is the WLALA Board of Governors’ Federal Court Liaison and a Federal Bankruptcy Judge.