L.A. Now

L.A.'s top federal prosecutor nominated to serve as U.S. district judge

Andre Birotte Jr., the chief federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the White House announced Thursday.

Birotte, who has served as the U.S. attorney overseeing the nation's second-largest office since 2010, is a former Los Angeles County deputy public defender who also acted as the Los Angeles Police Department's inspector general for six years.

As L.A.'s top federal prosecutor, he reinstated a public corruption and civil rights unit disbanded by his predecessor and oversaw high-profile investigations into the L.A. County jails and into state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon. At the same time, the office dropped closely watched probes into cyclist Lance Armstrong and former Countrywide Financial Chairman Angelo R. Mozilo under his watch.

"These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system," Obama said, according to a White House statement, announcing the nominations of Birotte and Randolph D. Moss to the federal bench in Washington, D.C. "I am grateful for their willingness to serve and confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity."

Birotte, 47, will replace Judge Gary Allen Feess, a Clinton appointee, who is retiring. Birotte's nomination now goes before the U.S. Senate, which will hold a confirmation hearing in the coming weeks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who recommended Birotte both for the U.S. attorney position and the federal bench, welcomed the White House announcement.

"I have been very impressed with his performance over the last four years. He has a record of excellence and fairness," she said in a statement. "I am confident he will serve the people of the Central District very well as a U.S. district judge."

Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, said most in the local legal community would praise Birotte's appointment.

"He was a U.S. attorney who was on the ground, out in the community and interacting with law enforcement agencies," Levenson said.

She said she did not believe the cases his office chose not to prosecute were blemishes on his record. "It takes guts and experience and judgment to know when you can go forward with a case and when you can't," she said.

Birotte is a Tufts University graduate who received his J.D. from Pepperdine University in Malibu.

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