Senior District Judge A. Howard Matz to Retire on April 1, 2013

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Senior District Judge A. Howard Matz has announced that he will retire from the bench of the United States District Court for the Central District of California effective April 1, 2013, after serving on the Court for nearly 15 years.  Judge Matz, who was nominated by President William J. Clinton on October 20, 1997, received his commission on June 29, 1998.  He assumed senior status on July 11, 2011.  In his notice to Chief Judge George H. King formally announcing his retirement, Judge Matz stated, “It has been my great privilege and pleasure to serve as a United States District Judge.  Although I will remain very active in professional life, I look forward to pursuing various long-deferred personal interests and to spending more time with my family.”

Judge Matz presided over numerous noteworthy cases, and several of his decisions were ultimately adjudicated by the Supreme Court.  In early 2002, he was the first judge in the country to rule on challenges to the detention of alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.  Coalition of Clergy v. Bush, 189 F. Supp. 2d 1036 (C.D. Cal. 2002).  In 2003, he ruled that under CERCLA, various California water districts were entitled to recover costs from a military weapons manufacturer for cleaning up perchlorate-contaminated aquifers.  Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Whittaker Corp., 272 F. Supp. 2d 1053 (C.D. Cal. 2003).  Later that year he enjoined real estate magnate and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from using the word “Korean” (as opposed to “Koreatown”) in the names of some of his apartment buildings.  Finding that such practices violated the Fair Housing Act, and in language quoted in a Los Angeles Times editorial, Judge Matz noted, “Uneasy relations among different racial and immigrant groups still prevail in various sections of this city and many residents would understandably regard the decision to place the word ‘Korean’ in the name of a building in a racially diverse neighborhood as a coded message: ‘Koreans and Korean-Americans are welcome and preferred; others are not.’”  Housing Rights Center v. Sterling, 274 F. Supp. 2d 1129 (C.D. Cal. 2003).

In 2009, Judge Matz was the first recipient of the “ Vanguard Award” bestowed by the California State Bar for his contributions to intellectual property jurisprudence.  Among his notable rulings in the field was Miller v. Glenn Miller Productions, 318 F. Supp. 2d 993 (C.D. Cal. 2004), which held for the first time that the “sublicensing rule” from copyright and patent law should be extended to the licensing of trademark and related publicity rights.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling by attaching Judge Matz’s decision as an appendix.  In several highly publicized cases brought by softcore pornography publisher Perfect 10 and by music recording giant Universal Music Group, Judge Matz issued precedent-setting rulings construing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

More recently, in United States v. Aguilar, 783 F. Supp. 2d 1108 (C.D. Cal. 2011), Judge Matz held that the term “foreign official” in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act encompasses high-ranking executives of state-owned enterprises.  And in Hollywood Foreign Press Association v. Red Zone Capital Partners II, 870 F. Supp. 2d 881 (C.D. Cal. 2012), he ruled that Dick Clark Productions has the right to produce the Golden Globes award show under its contract with the HFPA.

Judge Matz also served on many judicial committees, including the Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instructions Committee.  Most notably, he chaired the District Court’s Pro Bono/Pro Se Committee from 2003 to 2012.  Under Judge Matz’s leadership, the Committee worked with Public Counsel to establish in February 2009 the Nation’s first walk-in Pro Se Clinic, located in the Spring Street Courthouse.  Since then, the Committee has helped establish Pro Se Clinics in the Eastern Division and the Southern Division.  The Pro Se Clinic has received widespread recognition, including in video and written materials circulated nationwide by the Federal Judicial Center.

Prior to his appointment as district judge, Judge Matz was a partner in the law firm of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert & Matz from 1983 to 1998, and before that a partner in the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP from 1979 to 1983.  From 1974 to 1979, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and served as Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit from 1977 to 1979.  He received his undergraduate degree cum laude from Columbia University in 1965, and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1968.  After graduating from law school, Judge Matz clerked for the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Upon learning of Judge Matz’s retirement, Chief Judge George H. King stated, “Judge Matz has been a well-respected, very knowledgeable member of the Court for nearly 15 years, and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the bar.  He leaves behind a valuable legacy, not only of his many significant decisions on the bench, but also of his steadfast commitment to ensuring equal justice under law through the establishment of Pro Se Clinics in each of our Court's three divisions.  We wish him well on his retirement.”