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.