Washington—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Jesus Bernal to be a U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California:

“Mr. President, I rise to express my strong support for the nomination of Jesus Bernal to be a U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California. 

Born in Mexico, Mr. Bernal is 49 years old. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree cum laude from Yale University in 1986 and his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1989. He became a U.S. citizen in 1987.

Following law school, Mr. Bernal spent two years as a law clerk for the Honorable David V. Kenyon on the same court to which he is nominated today, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Mr. Bernal began his career in private practice, working as an associate at the law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White, & McAuliffe in Los Angeles from 1991 through 1996. Mr. Bernal practiced complex civil litigation, representing corporate clients in business disputes.

Since 1996, Mr. Bernal has worked as a Deputy Federal Public Defender in the Central District of California, where he has personally represented hundreds of indigent criminal defendants and overseen hundreds of other representations.

Mr. Bernal has appeared hundreds of times in court. He represents defendants through each phase of their cases – in hearings and plea negotiations, and at trial, sentencing, and on appeal.

Since 2006, Mr. Bernal has been a leader in the Federal Public Defender’s Office, experience that will help him manage his courtroom. He is the Directing Attorney of the Riverside Branch Office, a role in which Mr. Bernal supervises trial attorneys, investigators, and other personnel, in addition to carrying his own caseload.

He also serves as chairman of the Ethics Committee for the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the whole Central District, which is the largest Federal Public Defender organization in the Nation. In this capacity, Mr. Bernal works to resolve ethical issues and to provide ethical guidance for the 240 employees who work for the Federal Public Defender in the Central District.

Mr. Bernal has over 20 years of legal practice, including 5 years in complex civil litigation and 15 years in Federal criminal defense. He also has extensive practical experience supervising other attorneys. In short, he is well-prepared to serve on the District Court.

The seat Mr. Bernal will fill has been vacant since former District Judge Stephen Larson stepped down from the bench in 2009.

Judge Larson sat in the Eastern Division of the Court, which hears cases in Riverside and covers the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, the 11th and 12th most populated counties in the Nation.

The Central District is very busy. It has a caseload that is nearly 30 percent above the national average, and the sixth-highest civil caseload in the Nation.

The Eastern Division of the Central District is even more critically overloaded. It has only a single District Judge. Yet it encompasses 2,000 annual civil filings and 4.2 million people – roughly the population of the entire commonwealth of Kentucky, which has nine active District Judges and seven senior judges to handle it workload.

In short, filling this particular seat is very important and will bring needed judicial resources to the Federal bench in Riverside.

I also want to urge the confirmations of other judicial nominees from my home state.

Including Mr. Bernal, five of the fifteen District Court nominees on the Executive Calendar are from California. The other nominees are:

  • Magistrate Judge Fernando Olguin, a nominee to the Central District whom I recommended to the President;
  • Superior Court Judge Jon Tigar and Bill Orrick, nominees to the Northern District recommended by Senator Boxer; and
  • Superior Court Judge Troy Nunley, a nominee to the Eastern District whom I recommended to the President.

All four were approved by bipartisan votes in the Judiciary Committee, three of them by voice vote.

Each of these districts is in a judicial emergency according to the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The Central District’s caseload is over 30 percent above the national average. The Northern District’s caseload is over twenty percent above the national average. It now takes over 50 percent longer for a case to go to trial than it did a year ago in the Northern District, which hears some of our county’s most complex technology cases.

The Eastern District is the most overworked district in the Nation by far. With over 1,100 weighted filings per judgeship, its caseload is over twice the national average.

Simply put, my state – more than any other – urgently needs us to take prompt action on judicial nominees.

So, I urge my colleagues to support the nomination of Jesus Bernal, and to support confirming the four other distinguished California nominees pending on the Executive Calendar this year.”

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