Bush Nominates O.C. Judge to Federal Bench : Judiciary: Air Force One call offers lifetime post to Linda Hodge McLaughlin, subject to Senate confirmation.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County Superior Court Judge Linda Hodge McLaughlin was nominated Tuesday by President Bush to a lifetime post as a federal judge in Los Angeles.

McLaughlin, whom colleagues describe as exceptionally bright and hard-working, was already at work in her chambers at 6:30 a.m. when the phone rang. The voice at the other end of the line belonged to Bush, calling from Air Force One with the news.

The Times reported last July that McLaughlin was leading a select pack of contenders for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court.

McLaughlin's nomination is now subject to approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.

"I am sincerely honored that President Bush has nominated me," McLaughlin said. "I will work diligently to fulfill his expectations of me."

As the only California senator from the President's party, Sen. John Seymour chooses candidates for federal bench vacancies in the state and recommends them to Bush. Once the President nominates them, they must be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.

McLaughlin, 50, who arrives at dawn each morning to prepare for her trials, is assigned to the complex litigation panel of Superior Court in Santa Ana. To keep her trials moving in a backlogged courthouse, McLaughlin often asks lawyers to argue motions as early as 7:30 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m.

If appointed to the federal bench, McLaughlin would make the fourth female of the 29 judges in the federal court district that sprawls from Orange County to San Luis Obispo and east to San Bernardino. The job pays $129,500 a year.

McLaughlin attracted attention in 1990 for mandating reforms in the treatment of children detained at Juvenile Hall, ensuring that they are not placed in padded rooms or in wrist and ankle restraints without adequate psychiatric supervision.

Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. named McLaughlin to the Orange County Municipal Court in 1980. Since her elevation to Superior Court in 1982, she has handled a variety of criminal and civil assignments, including Juvenile Court cases and matters involving people with mental disabilities.

McLaughlin was born in La Canada and reared in Pasadena. A graduate of Stanford University and Boalt Hall School of Law, McLaughlin concentrated on tax, corporate and securities cases in private practice before taking the bench. She was also a disciplinary referee for the California State Bar.

McLaughlin lives in Tustin with her husband, a chemical engineer. They have five children.

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