The Northern California legal community gathered in San Francisco Wednesday (March 20, 2013) to recognize the work being done by federal judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
More than 400 members of the bench and bar attended the annual Ninth Circuit Luncheon, which is sponsored by the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. The event serves to introduce judges to the bar and share news about the courts. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Chief District Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California were the featured speakers.
This is the 35th consecutive year in which the luncheon has been held. It was started in 1978 at the suggestion of an attorney, the late G. Joseph Bertain, Jr., whose contribution was noted in the program for this year's event.
In his remarks, Chief Judge Kozinski observed that the Ninth Circuit bench continues to be in transition with the passing of four of its most senior judges in 2012: Chief Judge Emeritus James R. Browning and Senior Judges Otto R. Skopil, Jr., Robert R. Beezer and Betty Binns Fletcher.
"We are diminished by their absence," Judge Kozinski said. He also noted the passing earlier this year of well known appellate attorney Sanford "Sandy" Svetcov, who served as the volunteer coordinator of the Ninth Circuit's Pro Bono Counsel Program for the Northern District of California.
The bench losses have been balanced somewhat by the confirmations of five new judges, leaving just one vacancy on a court with 29 judgeships.
"We have been very fortunate. I just want to express my gratitude to the president and to the Senate," said Judge Kozinski, singling out California Senator Dianne Feinstein in particular.