Richard D. Aldrich

Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Second District

Background: Law degree from UCLA in 1963 Served as president and counsel for Casualty Insurance Co. of California, and later as counsel for Great Western Savings & Loan Association Went into private law practice in 1971, specializing in general civil litigation Appointed to Ventura County Superior Court bench in 1991 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian Named to California Court of Appeal in 1994 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.

Accomplishments: Soon after graduating law school, represented plaintiffs in 1966 Corvair case and persuaded a California jury that the General Motors car with the engine in the rear was defective Helped establish the state's first court-sponsored alternative dispute resolution program, which cut the time needed to resolve lawsuits by using retired judges and others to hear cases Chaired special statewide task force to mediate unification of Municipal and Superior courts Last year was part of a judicial panel that ruled the children of a woman shot to death at an L.A. County courthouse can sue the county for failing to provide adequate security. Case is now being reviewed by the state Supreme Court Listed in Best Lawyers of America publication in 1987, 1988 and 1989 Won 1992 Superior Court Trial Judge of the Year award.

Buzz: Frequently mentioned as contender for California Supreme Court because of his scholarship and temperament Known as consensus builder Often spends weekends studying cases Has no patience for frivolous cases and many lawyers have opted to settle litigation rather than go before him Popular lecturer on topics ranging from personal injury cases to alternative dispute resolution.

Lourdes Gillespie Baird

Judge, U.S. District Court

Background: Born in Ecuador to an Ecuadoran mother and American father, youngest of seven children Family moved to Los Angeles when Baird was a year old First enrolled in college as a married mother of three Says, "I had no intention of going to law school. It was like stepping on a train that continued to accelerate" Graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1976 Worked as assistant U.S. attorney from 1977-1983, prosecuting tax shelter fraud cases and eventually becoming an assistant chief in the criminal division Left for private practice, founding two all-women firms Rose through the ranks after her 1986 appointment to East Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian Appointed to Los Angeles Superior Court in 1988 Named by President George Bush in 1990 to head U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A Nominated in 1992 by Bush to U.S. District Court.

Accomplishments: As an assistant U.S. attorney, prosecuted Leonard Peltier, leader of the American Indian Movement, for an escape from Lompoc federal prison Presided over a 13-defendant case last year stemming from Operation Casablanca, largest drug-money laundering investigation in U.S. history Also last year presided over trademark infringement case in which jurors ordered pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to pay $143 million in damages to British company Trovan, whose name Pfizer used to market a powerful antibiotic that the FDA linked to liver failure in some patients Sentenced former Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie to two years in prison for her part in using closed or overdrawn bank accounts to buy $800,000 in stock.

Buzz: Can cut to the heart of complex cases because of impressive command of civil and criminal law Demands that lawyers in her courtroom do their homework, saying, "If they don't know about their case, how in the world do they expect me to?" Has no intention of retiring from the judiciary anytime soon Saw law as "a man's thing" in the 1970s, but decided to go to law school because it was an emerging field for women.

James A. Bascue

Assistant Presiding Judge,

Los Angeles Superior Court

Background: Graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 1970 Worked in District Attorney's Office under Robert Philibosian from 1971-1990, was chief deputy D.A. from 1983 to 1985 Selected chief trial counsel of state Bar in 1987 to oversee new lawyer discipline program Appointed to Superior Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1990 Appointed supervising judge of Superior Court's criminal courts in 1995, presiding over master calendar Named to California Judicial Counsel in 1998 Elected assistant presiding judge in 1999, directly supervising civil fast-track judges who are assigned to complex civil cases being targeted for quick resolution.

Accomplishments: Led hard-core gang unit, instituting system in which same attorney would prosecute gang crimes from beginning to end of case As deputy district attorney, supervised initial stages of McMartin preschool sexual abuse case As chief trial counsel, upgraded management of the state Bar Co-authored Delay Reduction Project to relieve case backlogs stemming from the Three Strikes law as chair of Countywide Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee Halted injunction last fall that severely restricted activities of alleged members of Pico-Union's 18th Street Gang because prosecutors had relied on affidavits from LAPD's scandal-plagued Rampart Division. Ruling was intended to give prosecutors time to reevaluate whether they have sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

Buzz: Will oversee unification of L.A. Superior and Municipal courts as next year's presiding judge Known for organizational skills Regarded by lawyers as decisive and independent As former prosecutor, demands high level of competency from prosecutors Skilled at negotiating with county supervisors and state Legislature on budgetary and legislative issues Met and married fellow Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor while both were working in D.A.'s office.

Paul Boland

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Background: Los Angeles native Received law degree from USC in 1966 Started as a clerk for the U.S. District Court in L.A. in 1968 Practiced for two years at the Western Center on Law and Poverty Taught from 1970 to 1981 at UCLA School of Law Appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1981 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown Tenure has included cases in juvenile courts as well as the family law and criminal departments Since 1992, has sat in the central civil division Married to U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow.

Accomplishments: Named Outstanding Jurist by the L.A. County Bar Association in 1994 While presiding judge of L.A. County juvenile courts in 1989 and 1990, oversaw construction of the nation's first children's court, providing independent counsel for abused and neglected youth Presided over case involving amateur photographer Bill Bradford, who was sentenced to death for the strangulation murders of two models in 1988. In June 1995, signed the death warrants for Bradford, who announced he had abandoned his appeals and wished to be executed. Less than two months later, Bradford decided he wanted to live, and the decision still awaits Oversaw an agreement in 1998 between Chiquita Canyon Landfill Inc., the Board of Supervisors and neighbors to meet environmental concerns over expansion of the landfill near Val Verde.

Buzz: Under consideration for appointment to the Court of Appeals Described as a "conscientious" judge with a good sense of humor "Litigation, there's nothing nice about it, but nice as it can get is what you find in his courtroom," says one attorney Boland believes the justice system can work only if the public perceives that it is fair. "Those perceptions are formed to a large extent by how justice is administered," Boland says.

William Matthew Byrne Jr.

Senior Judge,

U.S. District Court

Background: Born into family of lawyers and judges in Southern California Received doctor of law degree from USC in 1956 After a stint in the Air Force and then in private practice, served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles from 1967 to 1970 Appointed executive director of President's Commission on Campus Unrest after shootings at Kent State and Jackson State Although a Democrat then and now, appointed to U.S. District Court in 1971 by President Richard Nixon Served as chief justice from 1994 to 1998.

Accomplishments: Prosecuted Chicago mobsters in L.A. during the '60s Sentenced Northrop Corp. engineer to life in prison for trying to sell ultra-sensitive, B-2 stealth bomber information to FBI agents posing as Soviets In 1994, issued temporary restraining order blocking implementation of controversial, anti-immigrant Proposition 187 "It was an extraordinarily vague piece of legislation," he said. "Even before you get to the more interesting constitutional issues, it would have been unenforceable" Recently dismissed suit by Computer Sciences Corp. against Computer Associates International and Bear Stearns & Co. over failed hostile takeover attempt.

Buzz: Found himself in midst of Watergate drama when he presided over the trial of Rand Corp. researcher Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked the "Pentagon Papers" to The New York Times Threw out all charges when it became apparent that Nixon aides had broken into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to steal his files During trial, was invited to meet Nixon at San Clemente and discussed his interest in becoming director of FBI. Denies this was a blatant attempt by Nixon to influence outcome of trial. "These things have been rumored, but there would have been absolutely no logic to it," he said.

Victor E. Chavez

Presiding Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Background: Graduated from Loyola University School of Law in 1959 Joined Earley, Maslach, Foran & Williams in Los Angeles one year later Founding partner at Pomerantz & Chavez from 1969-90, focusing on personal injury and medical cases Built reputation as accomplished litigator that led to Superior Court appointment by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1990 Elected assistant presiding judge after only six years on bench First Latino appointed to State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners Past president of L.A. Chapter of Mexican-American Bar Association.

Accomplishments: More courthouse administrator than handler of high-profile cases Consensus-builder in recent unification of L.A. Superior and Municipal courts Instrumental in upcoming establishment of six courts and judges dedicated to handling only complex litigation As presiding judge, oversaw court transition to direct calendaring in which each judge handles a case from filing through the final ruling First Latino to serve on American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary Wrote a review of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that was considered before her appointment.

Buzz: Consummate diplomat Has lawyer-friendly reputation because of the respect he shows attorneys Skilled at smoothing disputes between judges and easing problems between the judiciary and other government branches Relates easily to juries, without talking down to them Known as the "cowboy judge" because of his love of horseback riding Co-founded the Cowboy Lawyers Association and was married on horseback Daughter Victoria Chavez is a Los Angeles Superior Court judge while son is a lawyer and stepson is in law school.

Jacqueline A. Connor

Background: Graduated from USC Law Center in 1976 Worked in various capacities at District Attorney's Office after law school, creating the sex-crimes unit and instituting vertical prosecution of sex cases Appointed to Municipal Court in 1986 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, later becoming supervising judge of West Los Angeles branch Elevated by Deukmejian to Superior Court in 1988 Among the first judges assigned to long-cause program, which set aside 10 courts to deal with long, complex cases.

Accomplishments: Judged more than a dozen death penalty cases, has never yet been reversed Recently imposed death sentence on convicted murderer Bernard Nelson for a 1995 carjacking slaying, despite defense contentions that he was misidentified and had been abused as a child Sentenced defendants to death in 1989 case involving a shotgun rampage at Mt. Olive church in South Central L.A. Handled complex gang-related murder case in 1988 involving six defendants and 13 attorneys As vice chair of the Grand Jury Trial Commission, pioneered jury reforms like permitting jurors to ask questions during trial and reopening hung juries.

Buzz: Known for giving heavy sentences in violent crime cases Runs efficient courtroom, expects lawyers to be highly prepared, has little tolerance for delays Says one lawyer dubbed her courtroom "the bullet train to hell" Praised by defense attorneys for legal knowledge and handling of complex issues Thinks implementation of Three Strikes law should be up to judge's discretion Raised in Japan, speaks fluent Japanese Married to Assistant Presiding Judge James Bascue, whom she met while working in D.A.'s office Her kids think her claim to fame is presiding over rapper Snoop Dogg's probation violation on a weapons charge and the prosecution of a man accused of stalking Madonna.

Larry Fidler

Supervising Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, Criminal Division

Background: Graduated from Cal State Los Angeles in 1969 and Loyola School of Law in 1974 Worked as criminal defense attorney in private practice until appointed to L.A. Municipal Court in 1983 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown Elected to L.A. Superior Court bench in 1992 Began in juvenile dependency and requested transfer to felony matters in 1995.

Accomplishments: Now presiding over LAPD Rampart Division case in which defense attorneys allege that police planted evidence and made false arrests Overturned convictions or threw out ongoing cases involving more than 30 defendants in that case As supervising judge for criminal matters, he can assign judges to handle certain types of cases Also considers police requests for wiretaps and issued an order last fall requiring prosecutors to notify defendants if they were charged as a result of a wiretap Handled several high-profile hearings in Municipal Court, including the case in which Christian Brando, the son of the famous actor, was charged in a fatal shooting Also presided in preliminary hearing for men accused of beating Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots.

Buzz: Said to be hard-working, dedicated, passionate about criminal law Considered so fair that it's difficult to tell he's a former criminal defense attorney who saved several defendants from the death penalty Known as more efficient and respectful toward lawyers and defendants than some of his iron-fisted predecessors Has a fine-tuned "b.s. detector," according to one attorney.

Haley James Fromholz

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court

Background: Born in Greenwich, Conn. Attended Dartmouth College from 1956 to 1959 Education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army in 1960 Was in the Reserve for six years Joined IBM in 1961 as a systems engineer Finished undergraduate degree at New York University in 1964 Completed law degree in 1967 from Duke University Joined Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco Appointed to Superior Court in 1994 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.

Accomplishments: Chairs the Superior Court's Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee, a group of 25 judges and lawyers who attempt to avoid trial for civil cases involving $50,000 or less per plaintiff Refused a plea for an injunction to stop construction on the Playa Vista development near Marina del Rey in 1999. Oversaw a settlement before the dispute went to trial As a lawyer, represented Memorex in a lawsuit filed against it by his former employer, IBM, alleging trade secret violations. Both sides settled.

Buzz: Expects lawyers early on to work together in cases Educates judges outside of Superior Court about the ADR process Runs a "no-nonsense" courtroom Recently awarded the Judges Award by the Southern California Mediation Association and the Emil Gumpert Judicial ADR Award by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Services Inc. Skis and scuba dives with family.

Ronald George

Chief Justice, California Supreme Court

Background: Los Angeles native Graduated from Stanford Law School Deputy attorney general in California Department of Justice, then appointed to Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1972 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan Appointed in 1977 to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Jerry Brown Appointed in 1987 to California Court of Appeal by George Deukmejian, and finally in 1991 to the California Supreme Court by Pete Wilson Appointed 27th chief justice of California by Wilson in 1996.

Accomplishments: Has played key role in some of the highest-profile court cases in Los Angeles, both as a prosecutor and as a presiding judge As a deputy attorney general, prosecuted Robert Kennedy's assassin Sirhan Sirhan Argued the constitutionality of the death penalty before the United States Supreme Court In Los Angeles Superior Court, presided over the trial of Angelo Buono, the Hillside Strangler, in a trial lasting two years and two days.

More recently, was part of 4-to-3 majority that upheld a controversial three-strikes ruling by the California Supreme Court... In that case, a Lancaster man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for stealing a carton of cigarettes, after having been convicted 15 years earlier for two felonies that pertained to a single knife attack.

Also received heat from conservatives for voting against a law that would have required women under 18 to get their parents' permission to have an abortion.

Buzz: Principal residence is Beverly Hills Currently focused intently on judicial reform Credited with initiating the merger of the Municipal and Superior courts, which became effective last month Actively working on overhauling the jury system . "One of the things that I'm working on now is to increase the jury compensation in California, which is at a national low, and to introduce a one-day-or-one-trial jury selection system," he says.

Terry J. Hatter Jr.

Chief Judge, U.S. District Court

Background: Third-generation lawyer who grew up in Chicago Studied at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he was the only African-American student in his freshman class After serving in the Army, graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1960 Moved to San Francisco and served as an assistant U.S. attorney for four years Worked in legal services before moving to Los Angeles in 1970 to become executive director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty Tapped by then-L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley to become an executive assistant and later director of urban development Named by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to Los Angeles Superior Court bench in 1977... Two years later was appointed to U.S. District Court by then-President Jimmy Carter.

Accomplishments: Became chief judge of the Central District in 1998 Presides at all meetings of district judges and chairs executive committee, which oversees court policies and procedures Represents court on all public matters and in dealings with other government institutions In 1994 ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could not raise bus fares More recently ruled that the federal government cannot indefinitely jail non-citizens awaiting deportation after serving prison sentences, if they are not accepted by their native countries.

Buzz: Socially liberal judge said to be thoughtful and even-handed Runs a tight courtroom, routinely chastising lawyers who chat in the gallery Critic of California's three-strikes law because he believes it discriminates against minorities Wants to see more minority candidates appointed to the courts In one of his first cases as a judge, issued a preliminary injunction in 1980 stopping a musical tribute to George and Ira Gershwin at the Westwood Playhouse after Ira Gershwin alleged that the production had exceeded its limited engagement Went home to find his wife had bought tickets for that weekend's performance.

Harry L. Hupp

Senior Judge, U.S. District Court

Background: Received B.A. from Stanford University in 1953 and law degree from Stanford in 1955 Civil litigator from 1956 to 1972 Appointed to Superior Court by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1974 and, after Reagan became president, to federal court in 1984 Became senior district judge in 1997.

Accomplishments: Recently handled high-profile dispute between the Southern California Air Quality Management District and environmentalists over local smog regulations, which has resulted in a preliminary settlement One of five senior district judges (actually four, because one recently retired) Presides over complex types of cases, including embezzlement, tax evasion, and patent infringement Bolstering District Court's school tour program Spends extensive time teaching students about the judicial system.

Buzz: Known for nimbly handling complex and technical cases Deft at judging cases with no prior case law to assist him Considered by lawyers to know the most intricate aspects of law Seen as cautious in rulings, non-controversial, not looking to break new legal ground Encourages settling in appropriate situations, instead of using courtroom time for those disputes.

Alex Kozinski

Circuit Judge,

U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals

Background: Born in Bucharest, Romania to two Jewish survivors of the Holocaust Family fled in 1961, first to Vienna and then to the U.S., ending up in Los Angeles in 1966 Received bachelor's degree from UCLA in 1972, and law degree from UCLA in 1975 Clerked for then-Ninth Circuit Appeals Judge (now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Anthony Kennedy, and then U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger... Joined law firm in 1977 Became deputy legal counsel for presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980 Joined Reagan Administration in 1981 as deputy legal counsel Appointed chief judge of newly established U.S. Claims Court from 1982 to 1985 Appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court in 1985 by Reagan; confirmed after bitter battle on a party-line vote.

Accomplishments: At age 35, one of youngest appointees to the federal appellate bench ever In two death-penalty cases, wrote decisions rejecting appeals for stays of execution, generating headlines in the process First Amendment supporter; wrote dissenting opinion in libel case of New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm and wrote majority opinion that attorneys' remarks about judges should not be subject to disciplinary action Opinion sharply critical of investors who reneged on a contract frequently cited in contract law textbooks.

Buzz: Passionate social libertarian and political conservative said to be the most witty and outspoken member of the Ninth Circuit, if not the entire federal bench Never one for being staid, even considered zany by some observers Has passion for extreme sports like snowboarding and bungee jumping Frequent columnist and guest on talk shows Wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal explaining why skiing is dead and snowboarding rules Loves the challenge of writing witty decisions, and once found a way to work in the titles of 227 movies in a decision involving movie-theater chains Not only campaigned hard to be appointed to the U.S. Claims Court, but reportedly has campaigned for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court he has jokingly referred to himself as the founder and sole member of the Organization of People Patiently Seeking Supreme Court Appointment.

Margaret M. Morrow

Background: Columbus, Neb. native Graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1974 Lawyer for 24 years specializing in appellate litigation Appointed to the U.S. District Court in 1998.

Accomplishments: First woman president of the State Bar of California, serving from 1993 to 1994 During her term, the bar reviewed attorney disciplinary system and adopted new set of guidelines Oversaw one of three separate indictments last year in a major international money laundering case. All 15 defendants pleaded guilty on eve of trial Presided over a settlement between the city of Alhambra and the Alameda Corridor Authority involving traffic impacts from construction

Buzz: Nomination to U.S. District Court took two and a half years to get confirmation. Senate Judiciary Committee held up approval over concerns that she would be an "activist" judge concerns based on a 1995 speech in which she said that law is "almost by definition, on the cutting edge of social thought." Says comment was meant solely to encourage lawyers to strive for balance in their busy lives Runs a formal courtroom Generally regarded as a thorough and fair judge Says hardest part of her job is finding time to sift through her batch of 300 civil cases and 80 criminal cases "I find myself wishing for 48-hour days," she says Met husband, L.A. Superior Court Judge Paul Boland, on a blind date... Likes to play tennis and sing.

Michael Nash

Supervising Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Dependency Department

Background: Earned bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA and graduated from Loyola School of Law in 1974 During 11 years as state prosecutor, served as co-counsel in "Hillside Strangler" case, which ended in life sentence without parole for Angelo Buono in 1984 Appointed to Municipal Court in 1985 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian First judge to hear cases in new Hollywood branch Appointed to the Juvenile Court bench by Deukmejian in 1989.

Accomplishments: Has worked for wide-ranging reforms in Juvenile Court Developed new protocol to review the history of juvenile suspects when determining whether to try them in delinquency court, which emphasizes rehabilitation, or dependency court, which considers family and personal circumstances Now pushing for greater public access to juvenile crime records Driving force behind the "Adoptions Saturday" program that has helped expedite more than 2,000 adoptions through the court since 1998 Requested Juvenile Court assignment, believing he could have the greatest impact on society by handling cases involving families and children.

Buzz: Rare example of a judge thriving in Juvenile Court, which many avoid or quickly try to leave... Considered one of the most effective and committed judges serving in that court Seen as kinder and gentler than he was at Hollywood court, when he was nicknamed "Monster Nash" and drew criticism from defense attorneys who said he doled out unfairly harsh rulings for misdemeanors Now perceived as an advocate for children, trying to reform the system while improving individual situations.

Dan Thomas Oki

Supervising Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, East District

Background: Earned bachelor's degree in political science from Stanford University in 1973 and law degree from Loyola Law School in 1977 Specialized in criminal defense and civil cases at the Covina firm of Jacobsohn, Christian, Stewart & Oki Appointed to Citrus Municipal Court bench in 1992 and served as presiding judge in 1993 and 1994... Appointed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson to Superior Court bench in 1997... Quickly promoted to supervising judge at Pomona Superior Court in 1998.

Accomplishments: With the unification last month of Superior and Municipal courts, Oki now supervises courthouses in Pomona, West Covina and El Monte Best known for administrative reforms, which include extending court hours and requiring judges to begin proceedings by 9 a.m Also requires judges to provide daily case schedules to make assigning and trying cases more efficient In 1994, devoted a courtroom to domestic abuse cases and explored counseling and other options as alternatives to jail terms, an approach since adopted by other courts Supports court-enforced counseling for abusers.

Buzz: Up-and-comer... Considered possible candidate to succeed James Bascue as assistant presiding judge of Los Angeles Superior Court Widely respected for consistent rulings and sharp administrative skills Known by attorneys to be middle-of-the-road, fair, friendly and punctual.

Mariana R. Pfaelzer

Background: Born in Los Angeles Earned bachelor's degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara and graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1957 Worked as attorney with Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman and Kuchel, eventually becoming senior partner Served as L.A. police commissioner from 1974-78 and became president of the panel during final year Appointed U.S. District Court judge by then-President Jimmy Carter in 1978.

Accomplishments: First woman to serve on the bench in the Central District Wrote majority opinion that key provisions of Proposition 187, including denying state aid to undocumented immigrants, were unconstitutional, essentially killing the initiative Overturned federal racketeering conviction of former Lincoln Savings and Loan boss Charles Keating on grounds that jurors improperly learned of his state convictions. Oversaw a plea bargain that effectively closed the Keating case in 1999 Initially upheld a jury verdict but threw out punitive damages on technicalities in landmark patent infringement suit brought by Litton Industries against Honeywell Inc Upheld $660 million judgment sought by Litton against Honeywell in related antitrust litigation Sentenced convicted computer hacker Kevin Mitnick to four years in prison and ordered him to pay a "token" $4,125 fine in plea bargain.

Buzz: Trailblazer for women throughout her career One of the first women lawyers in L.A Known for ability to tackle complex business issues, such as those in the Keating and Honeywell cases Reviled by proponents of Proposition 187 and many Republicans for overturning its major provisions Has become lightning rod for criticism of federal judges overturning initiatives that won the support of voters Married to lawyer Frank Rothman, former MGM executive.

Harry Pregerson

Background: Son of Ukrainian Jews Grew up in East Los Angeles Father was an L.A. mail carrier for 35 years who tutored his son in makeshift classroom in family garage Student body president both at Roosevelt High School and UCLA Received law degree in 1950 from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall Wounded in World War II in Okinawa Began law career as sole practitioner in 1951 Appointed to the municipal bench by Gov. Pat Brown in 1965 Elevated to Superior Court the next year Named to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson Has spent past 21 years on Court of Appeals.

Accomplishments: In response to civil rights lawsuit, blocked construction of Century Freeway running from Norwalk to Los Angeles International Airport in 1972 Propelled freeway project in 1981 by helping to negotiate an unusual agreement that required many of the construction jobs to go to minorities and women Helped craft a consent decree between the California and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Los Angeles to overhaul the Hyperion sewage treatment plant and stop spills of raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay Issued reprieve only minutes before double murderer Robert Alton Harris was to be executed in 1992 A member of panel that in 1996 upheld a ruling that San Quentin's gas chamber is cruel and unusual punishment.

Buzz: New Deal-style liberal Down-to-earth, soft-spoken manner serves as effective persuasion tactic Staunch foe of death penalty Known off the bench for his work with the homeless... Established two shelters, in Westwood and Bell Sister married to L.A. shopping center magnate Guilford Glazer, one of L.A.'s wealthiest residents. "I've made some investments with him," Pregerson says. "But none of them have produced great wealth for me." Married 53 years to Bernardine, who teaches microbiology at Pierce College Father of two children Son, Dean, is a U.S. district judge in Los Angeles Has no plans to retire.

Stephen Reinhardt

Circuit Judge,

U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals

Background: New York native Graduated from Pomona College in 1951, law degree from Yale University in 1954 Served as lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force General Counsel's office Partner in law firm of Fogel, Julber, Reinhardt, Rothschild & Feldman from 1959-1980 President of the Los Angeles Police Commission from 1978-80 Appointed to Ninth Circuit Court in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.

Accomplishments: As young attorney, took a civil rights case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won As Ninth Circuit judge, wrote majority decision striking down the state of Washington's ban on physician-assisted suicide; considers this his most important ruling Wrote majority decision overturning Arizona's English-only law Ruled that citizens have right to sue under the Endangered Species Act His majority decisions are among the most overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court of any appellate judge.

Buzz: Described as one of the last liberal crusaders in the federal judiciary, who fervently believes it is the government's role to right societal wrongs, especially in the area of civil rights Because Reagan appointees make for a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, has seen many of his rulings overturned and, with an unusual candor for a judge, has expressed dismay at the direction the court has taken Sharply criticized President Clinton for not appointing more liberal judges Described as a consummate judge, even by his detractors Close friends with Alex Kozinski, his ideological opposite on the Ninth Circuit; the two frequently debate in public. Admits that friendship could be strained beyond the breaking point if Kozinski were to be appointed to the Supreme Court Married to Ramona Ripston, president of the L.A. Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (his third marriage).

Pamela Ann Rymer

Background: Knoxville, Tenn. native Stanford Law grad... Antitrust lawyer for 17 years, then appointed to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1983 Six years later, elevated by George Bush to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where she replaced Anthony Kennedy.

Accomplishments: Involved in a number of headline-making decisions by the federal appellate court Wrote majority opinion in a ruling that upheld the Immigration and Naturalization Service's right to revoke citizenship of naturalized immigrants without a court hearing In 1994, sided with majority ruling that the Navy had to reinstate a sailor who had admitted being gay, flying in the face of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy In 1996, was part of key ruling that upheld $1.9 billion verdict against the estate of Ferdinand Marcos. Set important precedent because it held Marcos responsible for crimes committed by his underlings.

Buzz: Long affiliation with Republican Party During Bush administration, was often mentioned as frontrunner for seat on U.S. Supreme Court after William Brennan Jr. retired Political affiliation has kept her out of the picture during Clinton administration, but that might change soon.

Dickran Tevrizian

Judge, U.S. District Court

Background: USC law grad Appointed to Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1972 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan Six years later, elevated to California Superior Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown Returned to private practice from 1982 to 1985 Again sought out by Reagan, who by then was president, to serve on U.S. District Court First Armenian American to serve as a federal judge.

Accomplishments: Made headlines last month by setting aside death sentence of Stevie Lamar Fields, who has spent 21 years on death row Jury foreman recited biblical passages during penalty deliberations, rendering deliberations unfair, Tevrizian ruled.

Put himself in forefront of murky legal area by ordering Los Angeles magazine to pay $3 million to Dustin Hoffman for unauthorized publication of computer-altered photograph of the actor, calling it an abuse of computer technology Presided over ZZZZ Best fraud case and described Barry Minkow's apology to victims of his fraud as "el toro poo-poo" Acquired local celebrity status in 1991 by chasing down a defendant who tried to escape from his courtroom.

Buzz: Known as hard-liner on crime Most important and influential work is as a mediator in civil litigation Away from limelight, helps some of the nation's biggest corporations resolve disputes before they go to trial. "We get closure in about 98 percent of the cases," he says. "These companies want to come in early and make a deal, before the attorney fees start running up and it becomes more difficult to settle."

Charles S. Vogel

Presiding Justice,

California Court of Appeal, Second District

Background: B.A. from Pomona College, 1955 LL.B. from UCLA School of Law in 1959 Partner with Allard, Shelton & O'Connor in Pomona from 1959 to 1969 Appointed to Pomona Municipal Court by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969, and to Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1970 Returned to practice law as partner with Nossaman, Krueger & Marsh in Los Angeles from 1977 to 1981 Partner with Sidley & Austin 1981-93 Appointed to Second District Court of Appeal in 1993 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.

Accomplishments: Renowned for 1977 opinions on appeals in the murder trials of Charles Manson, and "Onion Field" killers Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith Served as president of State Bar of California from 1990 to 1991 Chaired Judicial Council Committee for Adoption of Code of Judicial Ethics from 1995 to 1996 Appointed in 1996 by Chief Justice Ronald George to be administrative presiding justice of the court of appeal and oversee the expenditure of funds allocated to the court Headed panel that wrote the new code of ethics for state judges in 1996. Code includes a ban on joining clubs that discriminate against gays (except the Boy Scouts) and prohibits accepting gifts, even a free lunch, from anyone with business before the court.

Buzz: Married to fellow Appeals Court Justice Miriam Vogel, only husband-wife team working on an appellate court Wife preceded him to court by three years His low-key style (contrasting with wife's outspoken courtroom ways) carries broad influence Said to have penchant for self-evaluation Defends decision to temporarily leave bench to return to private practice. "I was appointed fairly young," he says. "I felt I had to return to private practice to make a better living and because I wanted a broader experience as a lawyer."

Miriam A. Vogel

Associate Justice, California Court

of Appeal, Second District

Background: Born in Brooklyn Dropped out of Santa Monica City College in 1959 to marry first husband and raise a family J.D. from Whittier School of Law in 1975, magna cum laude Began legal career in 1975 as clerk in California Court of Appeal Specialized in civil litigation and appellate law as a partner at Maiden, Rosenbloom, Wintroub, Vogel & Fridkis Appointed to Los Angeles Superior Court in 1985 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian Appointed to California Court of Appeal by Deukmejian in 1990.

Accomplishments: Wrote opinion last year denying Frank Sinatra Jr.'s kidnapper the right to benefit from selling the story of the crime, citing the state's "Son of Sam" law Case is now before Supreme Court Refereed a series of courtroom battles over Proposition 103's insurance reforms in the late 1980s Ruled that auto insurers could raise rates on assigned-risk policies, overruling Insurance Commissioner's freeze on such increases.

Buzz: Widely acknowledged as gifted, outspoken, provocative judge Personally attributes her appointment to being in the right place at the right time "It's a political process anyone who tells you they're a merit appointment is fooling themselves," she says. Married to Presiding Justice Charles Vogel on the second district appellate court Only married couple among the justices of the six appellate districts in California Known for her immaculate case preparation, incisive mind, and reputation for not suffering fools gladly Challenge for just about any lawyer Many say she will one day be on California Supreme Court. Others say she would be hesitant to move to San Francisco, away from husband.

Kim McLane Wardlaw

Circuit Judge,

U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals

Background: Born in San Francisco Attended UCLA, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1976 with degree in communications Graduated fifth in her class from UCLA School of Law... Clerked for U.S. District Judge William P. Gray, then worked for O'Melveny & Myers as a corporate lawyer Became O'Melveny partner in 1987... Appointed to U.S. District Court in 1995 by President Clinton Named by Clinton in 1998 to U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Accomplishments: As district judge, threw out Johnnie Cochran's $10 million libel case against the New York Post, ruling that articles critical of Cochran and his legal procedures were protected by the First Amendment Ruled that L.A. city and county procedures aimed at preventing fraud in charitable solicitations were too broad and intrusive As federal appeals court judge, ruled that the government had to increase protection for fish before licenses could be renewed for two Oregon hydroelectric dams.

Buzz: Active in politics until becoming a federal judge Close friends of Mayor Richard Riordan and his wife, Nancy Married to local political operative and mayoral advisor William Wardlaw Also a pal of Bill and Hillary Clinton Solid legal scholar, analytical thinker and writer A rising judicial star who some say is a potential candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephen V. Wilson

Background: Native of Long Island, N.Y Cites father, a general practice lawyer, as biggest influence in his life Originally wanted to be a singer, but switched to law Bachelor's degree in economics from Lehigh University J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in New York First job was as trial attorney for tax division of U.S. Justice Department Moved to Los Angeles in 1971 to become assistant U.S. attorney Named chief of the office's fraud and special prosecution section in 1973, serving in that capacity until 1977 Adjunct professor of law at Loyola University, 1975 to present Partner specializing in civil litigation and criminal defense at Salkin & DeRoy in Beverly Hills, from 1977 to 1985 Appointed to federal district court by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 Currently a member of Ninth Circuit Jury Instruction Committee.

Accomplishments: Many cite landmark Kennedy vs. LAPD ruling in 1987 that found LAPD's practice of conducting body-cavity searches of all detainees to be unconstitutional Published important First Amendment rights opinions in the Justice Department's case against eight Palestinians, known as the "L.A. Eight," whose political views allegedly posed a danger to society. Blocked the Palestinians' deportation proceedings, saying the First Amendment does not permit "guilt by association" Ruled against Los Angeles County in sexual harassment case in which a fireman read Playboy magazine in front of a female firefighter. Noted that "quiet reading" of pornographic material does not constitute sexual harassment.

Buzz: Taskmaster who expects thorough preparation by lawyers Many consider him to be the most intelligent member of the federal bench in Los Angeles Known for taking some difficult stances in high-profile cases, such as Pamela Anderson Lee's 1997 lawsuit against Penthouse magazine for invasion of privacy in printing photos of Lee and her husband in compromising positions. In that case, he ruled there was no invasion of privacy since the photos were taken in public places Took some ribbing for falling asleep while watching "Jerry Maguire" in preparation for a breach-of-contract claim that Reebok brought against TriStar Pictures regarding the film.

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