Chief Judge Moskowitz Discusses The State Of The District

District Judges Michael Anello, Janis Sammartino, and William Enright

District Judges Michael Anello, Janis Sammartino, and William Enright

Federal judges and practitioners gathered for the annual State of the District luncheon on Wednesday, November 14 at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter. Attendees included keynote speaker Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, Presiding U.S. Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laura Taylor, Clerk of Court Sam Hamrick, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, and Shereen Charlick representing Federal Defenders of San Diego. Also in attendance was Superior Court Judge David M. Gill, who was honored with a plaque commemorating his 50 years of membership in the San Diego Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Chief Judge Moskowitz, who assumed the Chief Judgeship in January 2012, presented his first State of the District address during the luncheon. Judge Moskowitz acknowledged the numerous changes in the San Diego federal judiciary during 2012, including the unfortunate passing in September of Senior Judge Rudi M. Brewster, whose contributions to the Court and the San Diego community were immeasurable. Judge Moskowitz also welcomed new U.S. District Judges Cathy Ann Bencivengo and Gonzalo Curiel, new U.S. Magistrate Judges Karen Crawford and David Bartick, and new U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Latham. As Judge Moskowitz noted, there are no judicial vacancies in the Southern District, and the Court is currently “playing with a full deck.”

Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz addresses State of the District attendees

Chief Judge Barry
Ted Moskowitz addresses State of the District attendees

Judge Moskowitz then discussed the new United States Courthouse Annex, the planning for which has been underway for approximately 20 years. Judge Moskowitz discussed the logistical changes that will come with the Court being spread over two buildings rather than one, including that the entrance to the existing Schwartz courthouse will move to the west side of that building, and that the Magistrate Judges with chambers in 101 W. Broadway will move to the new building. Judge Moskowitz also explained the conditions imposed by GSA that led to the Court ultimately seeing a reduction, rather than increase, in its number of total courtrooms.

Addressing a topic of substantial current public concern, Judge Moskowitz discussed the dramatic automatic federal spending cuts set to occur on January 1, 2013. Judge Moskowitz expressed his personal belief that these cuts, if not averted, would drive the nation into another recession and possibly a depression, and that it is highly unlikely Congress would allow this to happen. He stated therefore that the Court is not devoting undue time and effort to planning for the fiscal cliff. He did state however, his emphatic intention to keep the Southern District up and running even should court funding be slashed, citing the court’s obligation to serve the legal community. While many chief judges have announced that courts will close should the fiscal cliff become a reality, Judge Moskowitz will hold court, even if it means taking notes himself should the funding for court reporters be unavailable.

Cynthia Cwik, Bob Brewer, Elizabeth Smith-Chavez, and William Kammer

Cynthia Cwik, Bob Brewer, Elizabeth Smith-Chavez, and William Kammer

Even with the many changes underway in the Southern District, the Court energetically partnered with the FBA to put on numerous educational events this year, and Judge Moskowitz highlighted some of those during his address, including the January Passing of the Gavel Ceremony, the Introduction to Federal Court seminar featuring James Wagstaffe in July, Erwin Chemerinsky’s Supreme Court review, and the Eighth Annual Judith N. Keep Civil Practice Seminar.

Chief Judge Moskowitz concluded his address by announcing that the State of the District is “good.” Indeed it is, in no small part due to the exceptional leadership of Chief Judge Moskowitz, his predecessors as chief judge, and all of their colleagues.