Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha, who currently serves on the Los Angeles Superior Court, comes to the federal bench with extensive experience in litigation, and will likely be fairly uncontroversial.
Fernando Lazaro Aenlle-Rocha was born in Havana, Cuba in 1961. Aenlle-Rocha got an A.B. from Princeton University in 1983, and a J.D. from U.C. Berkley School of Law in 1986. After graduating, Aenlle-Rocha joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as a Deputy District Attorney.
In 1990, Aenlle-Rocha joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida as a federal prosecutor. In 1994, he moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central District of California. In 1999, he joined Stephan , Oringher, Richmand & Theodora PC and then moved to the Los Angeles office of McDermott, Will & Emery in 2000. He became a Partner at White & Case in 2005.
In 2017, Aenlle-Rocha was named by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he currently serves.
History of the Seat
Aenlle-Rocha has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to a seat vacated on December 30, 2018, by Judge S. James Otero.
In May 2017, Aenlle-Rocha applied and interviewed for a federal judgeship with selection committees set up by California’s Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. In February 2019, Aenlle-Rocha interviewed with the White House and was selected as a nominee in August 2019. Aenlle-Rocha was nominated on October 17, 2019.
Aenlle-Rocha has worked both as a state and federal prosecutor and in private practice, where he primarily handled white-collar criminal defense. As such, he has extensive experience with the criminal justice system. Over the course of his career, Aenlle-Rocha tried 37 jury trials and four bench trials.
As a federal prosecutor, Aenlle-Rocha prosecuted Todd McCormick, an activist for legalized marijuana. He also prosecuted Peter McWilliams, who argued that he used marijuana to treat his medical issues. During the prosecution of McWilliams, Aenlle-Rocha opposed requests for McWilliams to smoke marijuana as a part of his treatment. The stance of Aenlle-Rocha and the federal government was criticized by others who argued that it lacked compassion.
In private practice, Aenlle-Rocha largely handled white collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. However, in a pro bono capacity, Aenlle-Rocha also represented a philanthropic group seeking to stop the sale of a home for the elderly.
Since 2017, Aenlle-Rocha has served as a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court. In this role, Aenlle-Rocha presides over trial court matters in criminal, civil, family, and other state law matters. By his estimation, Aenlle-Rocha has presided over around 38 trials in his judicial career. Aenlle-Rocha has presided over both the criminal and civil dockets on the court, including cases involving child abuse, drugs, and domestic violence.
Despite having been appointed to the state bench by a Democratic Governor, Aenlle-Rocha is a registered Republican.
Aenlle-Rocha’s record overall is fairly uncontroversial, with few hot-button issues implicated in his rulings. Furthermore, as he is a Republican who was suggested and recommended for the federal bench by California’s Democratic senators, his confirmation process should be fairly smooth.
 Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Fernando Aenlle-Rocha: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.
 See id. at 2.
 See id.
 See id.
 Id. at 46-47.
 David Houston, Marijuana Mansion, City News Service, Apr. 27, 1998.
 See David Houston, Medical Marijuana, City News Service, July 27, 1998.
 David Houston, Pot Politics, City News Service, Feb. 26, 1999.
 Doug Bandow, Punishing the Sick, Copley News Service, Jan. 18, 2000.
 National Charity League, Inc., Glendale Chapter, et al. v. Jack W. Anderson et al., Case No. E061333.
 See Aenlle-Rocha, supra n. 1 at 14.
 People v. Gomez, No. 5AV07341 (L.A. Sup. Ct.).
 People v. Ayala, No. MA069885 (L.A. Sup. Ct.).
 People v. Alvarez, No. 6AN01213 (L.A. Sup. Ct.).
 Press Release, Office of Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Governor Brown Appoints Nine to Los Angeles Superior Court, May 22, 2017 (available at https://www.ca.gov/archive/gov39/2017/05/22/news19797/index.html).