Latest Dannemeyer Bid for New U.S. Court Faces Uphill Fight

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An effort by Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) to create a new federal court district based in Santa Ana is unlikely to succeed, the congressman's spokesman said Friday.

Paul Mero, discussing Dannemeyer's rekindled bid to make Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties independent of Los Angeles in federal court matters, said the measure is probably doomed because of opposition by Manuel L. Real, the chief judge of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

"He wants to preserve his power base," Mero said. "He doesn't want to have his district carved up."

Real was unavailable for comment.

The U.S. District Court's Central District includes seven counties and is based in Los Angeles with a branch in Santa Ana. Dannemeyer's measure, introduced off and on since 1985 and again last week, would create a new, Santa Ana-based Western District made up of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and an additional branch court in Riverside or San Bernardino.

That would leave Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties in the revised Central District.

A competing measure introduced last month by Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Riverside) would keep the Central District intact and retain the Los Angeles base but would add another branch court in San Bernardino or Riverside.

Brown's aide, Bobi Johnson, said that adding a branch court is a necessary answer to the population growth in the San Bernardino and Riverside areas and would ease the burden on local residents who must drive to Santa Ana or Los Angeles for U.S. District Court cases.

But Mero maintained that simply adding another courthouse would not relieve the crowded docket of the Central District, which serves 15 million people. Cases would be processed much faster if Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties--with a combined population of more than 4.5 million--were in a separate district, he said.

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