October 17, 2010 by staff
Bruce Lisker, (AP) – The federal judge who stopped the military ban on openly gay troops is known for his work at court closing time beyond, tapping his own court orders and doting two terriers who are no strangers to the halls of justice.
The District Judge Virginia Phillips USA has won praise from gays and was derided by critics as an activist judge when she issued an injunction Tuesday ending the 17-year-old “do not ask, do not not tell “policy, saying it violates the rights of due process, freedom of expression and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The impact on the theme of polarization has surprised friends and colleagues Phillips, who said the 53-year-Social Democrat is much better known in his circle for his empathy, his love of the novels of Jane Austen and her annual tours walking Europe.
Phillips is popular with his court staff and works harder than anyone to get the right case, “said Stephen Larson, a former federal judge in Riverside.
In his tenure as a federal judge, Phillips has managed a wide range of cases, bank robberies and criminal drug trafficking in civil cases involving freedom of religion and speech, police brutality, environmental protection and labor law.
“I think the world of Ginny. She is a wonderful person on a personal level. It is a great judge. It is one of the hardest working people I know,” said Larson.
Phillips, whose husband died in 2001, is also dedicated to his two wire-haired terriers, Mick and Taffy, Mr. Larson.
“Dogs have been known to visit the courthouse from time to time, after school hours,” he said.
Phillips said on Wednesday by a court officer that she was unavailable for comment.
Proponents of “do not ask, do not tell” Phillips accused seeks to advance his own political convictions in its decision. They also said that it exceeded the bounds of its judicial authority to decide on something, which should be decided by the legislature.
“The lives of men and women in our armed forces are at stake army is not a toy that will be distributed the spoils of a political struggle, to be awarded to those who are politically powerful,” said Wendy Wright, president of Washington, DC, Concerned Women for America.
The Department of Justice is considering an appeal and may request a temporary freeze on his decision.
Those who have appeared before Phillips said the accusations of Wright and others do not ring true.
Phillips, born in Orange Valentine’s Day in 1957, is the fourth of eight children and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley before starting private practice in 1982.
She was hired as a partner at Best Best & Krieger LLP in Riverside, where she cut her teeth researching and writing briefs for his mentor, counsel Arthur Littleworth.
Littleworth said he never had to change a word of the work she did for him – quite a feat because Littleworth was famous for whipping his red pen.
“She was extremely thorough, hard working and a remarkable writer,” he said.
Phillips eventually partner with the firm before becoming the Riverside County Superior Court commissioner in 1991 and a federal judge in 1995. In 1999, President Clinton appointed her as a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Riverside.
In the 11 years since, Phillips oversaw a wide range of cases, but its decisions have largely escaped public scrutiny until now.
“It’s great business,” said Larson.
On Thursday, Phillips has handled a morning routine matters, including a hearing of the former owner Peter Pocklington Edmonton Oilers on a charge of perjury. She surprised the lawyers by the postponement of the hearing after counsel Pocklington reprimand for filing his paperwork pre-sentencing three weeks too late.
Phillips has revealed in the exchange she had vowed Tuesday – the day the “do not ask, do not tell” order was made – and did not have time to read 78-page filing Pocklington in between other cases.
“Let me say this as politely as I can: It’s not only my case,” Phillips said, adding later that she had five tests set to start in the coming weeks.
Phillips oversaw a 2002 civil case brought by a born-again Christian nurse who sued after being fired from a health clinic in the county for refusing to give patients the “morning after pill” for religious reasons. The jury found that the rights of the nurse to freedom of expression and religion have been violated and granted and 47,000 in damages for lost wages and emotional distress.
The case must court decisions on constitutional matters and thoughtful approach of Mr. Phillips was impressive, “said Bruce Disenhouse, who represented the health center to lose in that case.
“The only thing you find with J. Phillips, regardless of what kind of profile the case, it will give an equal amount of attention,” he said. “From the perspective of a layman, it is extremely effective. ”
In 2009, Phillips has overturned the conviction of Bruce Lisker, a man who had served 26 years for murdering his mother in a celebrated case of Los Angeles. She cited the findings of tainted evidence and sloppy defense.
Last week, Phillips has rejected an attempt by the Attorney General to send Lisker back to jail, saying he had missed the window in which to appeal the decision to release him.
When Phillips inherited the “do not ask, do not tell” case in 2008, it had languished for four years with the previous judge, but Phillips went quickly and defended his right to hear the case When government lawyers argued that she did not have jurisdiction. During the trial, it has allowed witnesses to continue after the close normal court, and then she personally typed a court order.
“We were happy because we had some experience with it before and knew to be a judge to hear both sides of the case and give both parties a fair treatment,” said Dan Woods, attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights group that sued to stop enforcement of the ban. “We knew we had a tough fight in this case.”
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