The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California has brought in four new judges since President Biden came to office. Biden is hoping to make it six with the nominations of state judge James Simmons and U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Schopler.
Andrew George Schopler received his B.A. summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1994. Schopler then received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1997 and spent a year as a solo practitioner and a public defender in Chapel Hill, North Carolina before joining Rudolf and Maher.
In 2004, Schopler became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. Schopler stayed with the office until his appointment in 2016 to become a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Southern District of California.
History of the Seat
Schopler has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, to a seat vacated on January 22, 2021, by Judge Larry Burns’ move to senior status.
Schopler started his legal career in North Carolina, practicing criminal defense both as a public defender and in private practice taking court appointed cases. Among the cases he handled in North Carolina, Schopler successfully persuaded the North Carolina Court of Appeals to reverse Jimmy Harris’ conviction for First Degree Murder, finding that the trial court had erroneously allowed the state to cross-examine the defendant regarding a fifteen year old aggravated battery conviction. See State v. Harris, 562 S.E.2d 547 (N.C. App. 2002).
As a federal prosecutor in San Diego, Schopler prosecuted drug crimes. See, e.g., Hells Angel Gets Two-Decade Prison Term for Dealing Meth, City News Service, Dec. 3, 2012. Notably, he worked on Operation Dog Pound, a wiretapping investigation targeting methamphetamine and crack cocaine trafficking in San Diego. See Operation Dog Pound Defendant Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison, States News Service, Sept. 12, 2011. He also prosecuted public corruption cases. See, e.g., Mexican Businessman, Two Others, Convicted in Scheme to Funnel Money Into 2012 Mayoral Campaigns, City News Service, Sept. 9, 2016.
Schopler also had the opportunity to brief and argue appeals as a federal prosecutor. For example, Schopler successfully defended against motions to suppress in a border patrol agent search case at both the trial and appellate levels. Compare United States v. Reyes-Bosque, 463 F. Supp. 2d 1138 (S.D. Cal. 2006) with United States v. Reyes-Bosque, 596 F.3d 1017 (9th Cir. 2009). See also United States v. Navarro, 608 F.3d 529 (9th Cir. 2010) (affirming conviction for importing heroin and possession with intent to distribute).
Since 2016, Schopler has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Southern District of California. In this role, he presides over pretrial, trial, grand jury and discovery matters. Among the notable matters he has handled as a magistrate, Schopler recommended the denial of a habeas petition filed by California inmate Hussein Ibrahim, finding them to be untimely. See Ibrahim v. Fox, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16747 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 25, 2018). This report was adopted by Judge Roger Benitez, who stated that the report was “thoughtful and thorough.” See Ibrahim v. Fox, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27091, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 20, 2018).
In another case, Schopler declined to dismiss a prisoner’s civil rights claim for failure to exhaust, ruling that the allegation that a guard had threatened the plaintiff to get him to drop his administrative appeals was sufficient to excuse any failure to exhaust. See Mitchell v. Silva, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129369 (S.D. Cal. July 21, 2020).
Schopler has a handful of political donations to his name, all to Democrats, including Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
With twenty-five years of legal experience and six years on the bench, Schopler will likely be deemed as close to a consensus nominee as can be found this Congress. He will likely have a smooth confirmation, calendar permitting.