Former local judge to U.S. bench

Ryan Carter

A Burbank High School alumnus and former local Superior Court judge

has been appointed by President Bush to sit as a judge on the U.S.

District Court’s Central District in Los Angeles.


“It might sound cliche, but it’s very humbling,” said Samuel James

Otero, who last week was cleaning out his Los Angeles Superior Court

office to move a couple of buildings away to the U.S. courthouse

downtown. “I’ve been on the Superior Court for 12 years, and this was


just a natural next step in my career, to look at the federal bench.”

Otero, 51, lives in Glendale with his wife. His two children

attend Stanford University. He worked in the 1990s as a judge in

Burbank and Glendale courthouses before moving to Los Angeles

Superior Court downtown. He was also the supervisor for both Glendale

and Burbank Superior courts. He will begin hearing federal cases

March 10. Those cases will include everything from patent-law issues

to civil-rights claims.


“When he left the [Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office] it was huge

loss for us,” said Mary House, supervising judge for the Los Angeles

Superior Court district that includes Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.

Otero was House’s supervisor when they both worked at the Los Angeles

City Attorney’s Office, she said. “Our loss is a gain for the federal


House described Otero as a hard-working, straightforward

adjudicator who has a talent for what she called using “an economy of



She said both traits are valuable in a lifetime appointment that

will include a large and extremely diverse caseload.

“It’s a daunting court,” House said.

But it’s one Otero, whose academics went from Burbank High School

to law school at Stanford University, seemed eager to engage after a

lengthy nomination process.

Otero applied for the position in July 2001 and in April was

nominated by Bush. He went through confirmation hearings with the

Senate Judiciary Committee in January and was confirmed Feb. 12.

Though he said he was appointed by a Republican president, Otero

said he considers himself a centrist.

“I’m a moderate on both social issues and economic, but I’ve been

a Republican since before I could vote,” he said.