Judge Stanley Blumenfeld – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Of the seven candidates nominated to California federal courts so far, Judge Stanley Blumenfeld is the only one with judicial experience, having been a judge for the last thirteen years.

Background

Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. was born in Patchogue, NY in 1962.  Blumenfeld got a B.A. from Binghampton University in 1984, an M.A. from New York University in 1985 and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1988.[1]  He then clerked for Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[2]

In 1989, Blumenfeld joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California as a federal prosecutor.[3]  In 1993, he moved to the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.[4]  He became a Partner with the firm in 1998.

In 2006, Blumenfeld was named by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he currently serves.[5] 

History of the Seat

Blumenfeld has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to a seat vacated on August 1, 2014, by Judge Audrey Collins’ move to senior status.  On July 17, 2015, President Obama nominated Judge Mark A. Young, a colleague of Blumenfeld’s on the Los Angeles Superior Court, to fill the vacancy.  While Young’s nomination was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 5, 2015, he was blocked from a final vote for over a year by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, leaving the seat open for the Trump Administration.  

In August 2017, Blumenfeld was contacted by the White House to gauge his interest in a federal judgeship.[6]  He interviewed with the White House in September 2017 and then with selection committees set up by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.[7]  In October 2018, Blumenfeld was nominated by the White House.

Legal Experience

Blumenfeld has held two primary legal positions before joining the bench: as a federal prosecutor; and as an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers.  In the former position, Blumenfeld was in the civil division, and, as such, handled civil and constitutional claims in which the federal government was the defendant.  In the latter, Blumenfeld handled commercial and environmental litigation, as well as some white collar defense.  

Blumenfeld notably represented General Telephone and Electric Co. in defending a lawsuit brought by O.J. Simpson seeking access to phone records he claimed would exonerate him.[8]  Blumenfeld was able to get the lawsuit dismissed, with Judge Dean Pregerson finding that the suit “borders on being frivolous.”[9]

Jurisprudence

Since 2006, Blumenfeld has served as a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court.  In this role, Blumenfeld presides over trial court matters in criminal, civil, family, and other state law matters.  By his estimation, Blumenfeld has presided over around 200 trials in his judicial career.[10] 

Notably, Blumenfeld presided over the trial of the so-called “kitty litter” killer, Isaac Campbell.[11]  Campbell was so named for dumping the body of his victim into a trash can full of cat litter.[12]  Campbell was found “not guilty” of murder by a jury but was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and Blumenfeld sentenced him to the maximum penalty, 11 years in prison.[13]

In other cases, Blumenfeld has shown a willingness to impose strict criminal penalties.  For example, he sentenced Richard Tauch, convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.[14]  In another case, he sentenced Carlos Andres Lopez to four years in prison for stealing a custom-made tricycle from a young boy with cerebral palsy.[15]

Political Activity

Blumenfeld is a Republican and has contributed to the campaign of President George W. Bush and to the Republican National Committee.[16]

Writings & Commentary

As a law student, Blumenfeld authored a note attempting to parse out the tension between two competing legal principles: the “master of the complaint” doctrine and the “artful pleading” doctrine.[17]  The former doctrine emphasizes the plaintiff’s right to dictate in their complaint which laws and jurisdictions they wish to avail themselves of whereas the latter allows state law claims to be moved to federal court where courts find that the complaint is essentially asserting a federal right.[18]  Blumenfeld argues in the note that the “artful pleading” doctrine serves no real purpose and undermines other legal principles that allow plaintiffs to shape “the face” of their lawsuit.[19]  As such, he recommends that the doctrine be abandoned.[20]

Overall Assessment

An overall review of Blumenfeld’s record does not suggest any characteristics that would make him controversial.  Rather, Blumenfeld was likely picked as a nominee because he was seen as acceptable to California’s Democratic senators.  However, with all California nominees in a temporary limbo, it remains to be seen if and when the confirmation process will start for Blumenfeld.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Stanley Blumenfeld: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] See id. at 2.

[3] See id. 

[4] His tenure at O’Melveny overlapped with that of fellow CDCA nominee Mark Scarsi.

[5] See id. 

[6] Id. at 42.

[7] Id.

[8] Linda Deutsch, Federal Judge Throws Out O.J. Simpson Lawsuit, A.P. State & Local Wire, Apr. 25, 2000.

[9] See id. (quoting Judge Dean Pregerson).

[10] See Blumenfeld, supra n. 1 at 10.

[11] People v. Campbell, No. GA0707040 (L.A. Sup. Ct.).

[12] Lauren Gold, Alhambra ‘Kitty Litter’ Killer Gets Maximum Sentence, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, July 16, 2012.

[13] See id.

[14] ALHAMBRA, Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole For Murdering Ex-Girlfriend, Her New Boyfriend, City News Service, June 19, 2014.

[15] PASADENA, Man Sentenced to Four Years in Prison For Stealing Disabled Boy’s $5300 Tricycle, City News Service, June 20, 2016.

[17] Stanley Blumenfeld Jr., Artful Pleading and Removal Jurisdiction: Ferreting out the True Nature of a Claim, 35 UCLA L. Rev. 315 (Dec. 1987).

[18] See id. at 317-20.

[19] Id. at 366-67.

[20] Id.

4 Comments

  1. Why are the California nominees currently being held up? In January, Dianne Feinstein wrote that the district court nominees represented a “balanced compromise,” so it’s interesting that there has been no movement on their nominations. Is this retaliation for the White House moving forward on Lee, Bress, and Collins despite the senators’ objections?

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  2. Both CA and NY are facing multiple “judicial emergencies.” But, Schumer and, to a lesser extent,Feinstein, are being criticized by some in their own party for “allowing” ANY of Trump’s judicial nominees to be confirmed. This is true even when the nominees are chosen and approved by Democratic senators in “Blue” states like:DE, Minn, RI, IL, OR, PA, NM, NY, and even when they were previously nominated by Obama.

    At some point, Schumer and Feinstein will have to ignore criticism from some in their own party and address the excessive number of judicial openings in their home states. They’ll take their lumps but millions of constituents are counting on them to take care of business.

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    • That’s a good point, but I have a feeling the problem has more to do with Harris and Gillibrand than Feinstein and Schumer. The former two are running for president, and they probably don’t want to be seen giving blue slips to anyone. It’ll be interesting to see if Graham continues to respect the blue slips for district court nominees.

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  3. In NY, Schumer has that deal for 7 judges already in place.It’s just a matter of final confirmation votes.
    In CA, on the other hand, the 2 Democratic senators may be trying to ride out the Trump administration to get a better deal with the next administration. That’s a gamble that recently paid off for Senators Cornyn and Cruz in TX. They rode out the Obama administration and, so far, have been able to divide the political spoils of naming nearly 20 federal judges in Texas in 2+ years.
    But lining it all up-the White House and control of the Senate- is a tall order. Doing it while both Harris and Feinstein are in office? That may be too much to expect.
    Politics is supposed to be “the art of the possible.”

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