July 8, 2014
The United States District Court for the Central District of California announces the selection of Louise A. LaMothe as United States Magistrate Judge. Judge LaMothe, who was sworn in on January 10, will sit in Santa Barbara in the Court's Western Division, filling the position vacated by former Magistrate Judge Rita C. Federman.
Prior to her selection as a Magistrate Judge, Judge LaMothe practiced as a professional arbitrator and mediator, serving on the panels of the American Arbitration Association, and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR). She is a Fellow and Board member of the College of Commercial Arbitrators and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She has been a long‐time volunteer on the District Court's Attorney Settlement Officer Panel. While in private practice as a litigator she served twice as a Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference lawyer representative and was Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. She began her Los Angeles legal career at Irell & Manella, LLP, in 1974, where she became the firm's first woman partner. She later practiced at Riordan & McKinzie and Bird Marella Boxer Wolpert & Matz before becoming a full‐time neutral.
Since 1997, Judge LaMothe has resided in Santa Barbara, in 2012, Santa Barbara Women Lawyers honored her as its Deborah Talmage Attorney of the Year, and she has been a Master in the William L. Gordon Inn of Court. She received both her A.B. and her J.D. from Stanford University.
Including the position now occupied by Judge LaMothe, the Central District of California has 24 authorized full‐time and one part‐time Magistrate Judge positions. The duties of Magistrate Judges include conducting preliminary proceedings in criminal cases, the trial and disposition of misdemeanor cases, conducting discovery and various other pretrial hearings in civil cases, the trial and disposition of civil cases upon consent of the litigants, and other matters as may be assigned. Part‐time Magistrate Judges are appointed for a term of four years, and can be reappointed to additional terms.
The Magistrate Judge position requires a minimum of five years as a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a state, and at least five years of active practice of law. The rigorous selection process, which is governed by statute and by regulations adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, includes detailed background reviews and interviews before a Merit Selection Panel consisting of attorneys and non‐attorney public representatives. The Panel refers candidates to the District Court, where interviews are conducted by the District Court's Magistrate Judges Committee. The top candidates are then referred to the full Court for review, selection, and appointment.
The Central District of California is comprised of the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, and serves approximately 18.7 million people – nearly half the population of the state of California. In 2013, almost 16,000 cases were filed in the District.
(Press Release courtesy of Terry Nafisi, District Court Executive, January 17, 2014)