A longtime consumer protection attorney in private practice and at the Department of Justice, Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong has now been nominated for a seat on the federal bench.
Born in Los Angeles to an immigrant family from Ghana, Frimpong got an B.A. from Harvard University in 1997, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 2001. After graduating, Frimpong clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then joined Morrison & Foerster as an associate.
In 2007, Frimpong joined the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division, rising to become Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, working on consumer protection litigation.
In 2015, Frimpong was named by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where she currently serves.
History of the Seat
Frimpong has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to replace Judge Christina Snyder, who took senior status on November 23, 2016. The Trump Administration had previously nominated Judge Sandy Leal from the Orange County Superior Court to fill this seat, but Leal was never confirmed.
While she started her career at the big law firm, Morrison & Foerster, Frimpong spent the most significant portion of her career litigating with the Department of Justice in a variety of capacities. For example, as Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Consumer Protection Litigation, Frimpong helped assist with the prosecution of W. Scott Harkonen, the former CEO of Intermune, Inc. who was convicted of wire fraud for dissemination of false and misleading information.
During Frimpong’s tenure, the Second Circuit notably overturned a criminal conviction for promoting the off-label use of drugs, holding that such promotion of otherwise legal off-label use could not lead to criminal penalty. See United States v. Caronia, 703 F.3d 149 (2d Cir. 2012). Shortly after, the Fourth Circuit ruled that violations of FDA Good Manufacturing Practices regulations cannot be the basis for qui tam claims. United States ex rel. Rostholder v. Omnicare, 745 F.3d 694 (4th Cir. 2014). Despite the adverse decisions, Frimpong spoke before the 2013 CBI Pharmaceutical Compliance Congress, stating that cracking down on misbranding, adulteration, and off-label advertising was an essential part of consumer protection.
Since 2015, Frimpong has served as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. In this role, Frimpong presides over trial court matters in criminal, civil, family, and other state law matters. Among the matters that Frimpong has presided over, she ruled that a bail bondsman could not set aside the forfeiture of a bond after missing the deadline to file a motion to set aside the forfeiture, a ruling affirmed on appeal. See County of LA v. Lexington Nat. Ins. Corp., 2020 WL 830748 (Cal. App. Feb. 20, 2020).
Given her experience in private practice, the Department of Justice, and on the state court bench, Frimpong can certainly be deemed qualified for the federal bench. With little in her background that is likely to cause controversy, Frimpong will likely be confirmed by the end of the year.