Bush Names 2 for Judgeships in L.A.


President Bush on Wednesday nominated two Republican attorneys from Los Angeles who are former federal prosecutors for prestigious positions as U.S. District Court judges.

Bush tapped Percy Anderson, 52, a partner at Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, and John F. Walter, 57, senior partner at Walter, Finestone & Richter, a firm that he founded.

They are the president’s first nominations for the District Court in Los Angeles, which has six vacancies and where judges are carrying heavy caseloads. There are 21 federal trial judges in Los Angeles.

Anderson and Walter were nominated for federal judgeships by Bush’s father in 1992, but their nominations died without a hearing as the confirmation process ground to a halt in the closing months of his presidency.


Last year, Anderson and Walter were unanimously recommended for the judgeships by a six-member screening committee of Democratic and Republican attorneys that was created by representatives of the Bush administration and California’s two Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

The nominations were among 24 Bush sent to the Senate on Wednesday for judgeships around the country. In recent weeks, Bush has complained about the pace of the confirmation process. When the Senate adjourned Dec. 20, it had confirmed just 28 federal judges. Before Wednesday’s action by Bush, there were 23 nominations to federal appeals courts and 14 nominations to District Courts. Both California senators issued statements praising the nominees, which should enhance their prospects for a swift confirmation, said Gerald Parsky, the West Los Angeles attorney who heads Bush’s California judicial screening team.

“Mr. Walter and Mr. Anderson both demonstrated strong skills and qualifications to the advisory committee and this bodes well for the nomination process in the Senate,” Feinstein said.

Boxer added: “Both are very well qualified to serve on the federal bench.”


Walter, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., graduated from Loyola University and Loyola Law School. He was a federal prosecutor from 1970 to 1972 and obtained a conviction in a well-known case involving a group of sophisticated burglars who broke into a Laguna Niguel bank, rifled every safe deposit box and got away with millions of dollars. After his government service, Walter joined a large national law firm and then founded his firm, specializing in complex civil cases.

Anderson, born and raised in California, graduated from UCLA and UCLA Law School. He worked for two years at San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Assistance before joining the U.S. attorney’s office in 1979.

Perhaps his most noteworthy case as a government lawyer was the successful 1985 prosecution of Thomas P. Cavanaugh, an engineer who tried to sell the Soviets information about the U.S. Air Force’s stealth technology, which makes airplanes invisible to radar. Cavanaugh received a life sentence.

Anderson recently has done civil litigation and white-collar criminal defense work. In addition, he served on the Christopher Commission, which investigated the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the 1992 riots.


Los Angeles attorney Jan L. Handzlik, who knows both nominees, said they deserve swift confirmation. “They were bridesmaids before,” Handzlik said. “Hopefully, the ceremony will be completed this time.”