On March 15, 2012, the United States Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Michael W. Fitzgerald to serve as a federal district judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Fitzgerald, who was nominated by President Obama on July 20, 2011, will preside over matters in Los Angeles in the Court’s Western Division.
Since 1998, Fitzgerald has been a named partner at the law firm of Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in Los Angeles, where he handled complex civil and criminal cases in both federal and state courts, at trial and on appeal. Previously, he practiced at the Law Offices of Robert L. Corbin PC in Los Angeles from 1995 to 1998 and the Los Angeles office of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP from 1991 to 1995. From 1988 to 1991, Fitzgerald served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Prior to that, he was an associate at the law firm of O’Donnell & Gordon from 1986 to 1987.
Fitzgerald received his undergraduate degree in 1981 from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude, and his law degree in 1985 from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was elected to the Order of the Coif. While in law school, he served as Managing Editor of the Industrial Relations Law Journal, and also received the American Jurisprudence Award in Criminal Law. After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
During his professional career, Fitzgerald engaged in pro bono and public service in a variety of contexts, including as a Deputy Chief Counsel to the Rampart Independent Review Panel, which examined the policies, procedures, and operations of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rampart scandal. He also served on the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Advisory Committee for the Office of the District Attorney, and as a volunteer counsel to the Webster Commission, which investigated the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the 1992 riots that erupted after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. In 1994, he received the Maynard Toll Pro Bono Associate Award from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Richard E. Guggenhime Pro Bono Award from Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe.
Fitzgerald also has been active in bar associations, and has been a member of the White Collar Crime Committee of the American Bar Association, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He also served as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and one of two lawyers on the Ninth Circuit Attorney Admission Fund Committee.
Fitzgerald fills the vacancy created when District Judge A. Howard Matz took senior status in July 2011. The Central District of California has 28 authorized Article III judgeships, two of which remain vacant. One vacancy is in the Court’s Eastern Division in Riverside, which has remained unfilled since November 2009, and the other is in the Western Division in Los Angeles, which recently arose when District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank assumed senior status earlier this month.
The Central District of California is comprised of the seven counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, and serves approximately 18.6 million people – more than half the population of the state of California. Last year, over 16,000 cases were filed in the District.
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