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JUNE 2016 - Ninth Circuit Power Lunch
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WLALA Members Participated in the First Power Lunch Held at the Federal Court of Appeals


Razmig Izakelian

Law Clerk to Judge Sandra Klein


On May 13, 2016, WLALA President, Kim Arnal, WLALA Past Presidents Hon. Nicole Bershon and Eileen Decker, U.S. Attorney, WLALA Board members Hon. Sandra R. Klein, Kelly Kriebs, Jessica Kronstadt, Hon. Beverly Reid O’Connell, Melissa Cerro, Janet Hong, Paula Mitchell and Ruth Pinkel, and WLALA members Jan Jensen and Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen participated in the first Power Lunch ever held at a federal court of appeals.  During the Power Lunch, approximately 45 students from John Muir High School met with approximately 50 judges, special guests, and lawyers to learn about the law and the legal profession. 

In addition to the judges listed above, the following judges also participated in the Power Lunch: Ninth Circuit Judges Dorothy Nelson and Jacqueline Nguyen; Senior District Judge Terry Hatter, Jr.; District Judges Dale Fischer, and John Kronstadt; Bankruptcy Judges Thomas Donovan, Ernest Robles, and Erithe Smith; and Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Sherilyn Garnett, and Rupa Goswami.  A number of attorneys volunteered during the Lunch including Assistant United States Attorneys, Deputy Federal Public Defenders, and attorneys from private practice. 

Judge Klein began the Power Lunch with brief opening remarks, welcoming the students and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.  She advised that if they wanted something, such as to attend a particular college, they should “just do it!”  As Judge Klein noted, the students will have a much better chance of getting into the college of their choice if they apply than if they do not apply.  Judge Nelson then welcomed the students to the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse, explained that the Chambers Courthouse is their courthouse, and invited the students to visit her chambers.  Judge O’Connell spoke next, explaining that she created the Power Lunch program when she was a Superior Court judge to help educate students about various career opportunities available in the legal profession. 

Ninth Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen was the inspirational Power Lunch guest speaker.  Judge Nguyen shared that she was born in Vietnam, but she and her family were forced to leave their home when South Vietnam fell to Communist forces.  She recounted how she, her parents and her five siblings were refugees when they came to the United States and lived at Camp Pendleton.  Despite English being Judge Nguyen’s second language, she received an English degree from Occidental College and a Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law.  Judge Nguyen emphasized to the students that they should not be deterred by any obstacles.  And, they should pursue their dreams, no matter what those dreams might be. 

Judge Klein then introduced each judge and provided “fun facts” about the judges.  The purpose of disclosing fun facts about the judges is to help the students realize that judges are people too!  Guess which judge wanted to be a NFL referee?  Guess which judge swims six days a week and loves to ride waves in the ocean?  (Please see below for answers to these questions.) 

The highlight of the Lunch was a lively game of Legal Jeopardy! led by Judge O’Connell.   Legal Jeopardy! is played like the traditional Jeopardy! game but with the following legal categories: “Judges and Lawyers,” “Trials,” “Bill of Rights,” “Think Like a Lawyer,” and “Who’s Who in the Courtroom.”  The students had a great time answering the questions and demonstrating their knowledge of the law and the legal profession.

At the end of the Lunch, Judge Nelson gave concluding remarks, and Judge Klein thanked the Court of Appeals, District Court and Bankruptcy Court staff who worked together to make the event such a success.  Judge Nelson then provided the students and guests with a personal tour of the Chambers Courthouse, which included a visit to the three courtrooms, the library and her chambers.  As an added treat, Federal Protective Service Officers Gustavo Carrillo and Jason Lynd greeted the students as they finished the tour and answered numerous questions about law enforcement careers.   

SPOILER ALERT: Judge O’Connell wanted to be an NFL referee and Judge Nelson swims six days a week and loves to ride ocean waves!