Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named three appointees to the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Named were Elena J. Duarte, 40, an assistant U.S. attorney for L.A.'s U.S. Attorney's Office; Samantha P. Jessner, 41, who also served as an assistant attorney in L.A.'s office; and private sector attorney James A. Steele, 54.

Duarte, of Valencia, also served as a trial attorney in the criminal division for the Dept. of Justice in Washington D.C. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from USC. She fills the vacancy left by retiring judge Richard Van Dusen. Duarte is a Democrat.

Jessner served as the director of the High Intensity Financial Crimes Task Force and as an assistant inspector general for the Office of the Inspector General. Prior to that, she served as litigation counsel for Boeing Co. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University. She fills the position created by the retirement of Judge Chris Conway. Jessner is a Democrat.

Steele, who lives in Hidden Hills, served as principal of his law firm, Steele & Persoff, since 1989. Previously, he was of counsel for the law firm Rosen, Wachtell & Gilbert and general counsel for the Tucson Development Co. Steele earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the California Western School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, San Diego. He fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Valerie Baker. Steele is a Republican.

The annual compensation for each position is $171,648.

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