Chuck Poochigian, the former state senator and AG candidate was quite a hoot during the 2006 campaign. I tried desperately to find the ad that Ben Stein cut for him, without success, but trust me, it was a riot. But the news that Gov. Schwarzenegger nominated Poochigian to the California Court of Appeal’s Fifth District was not without controversy. I had heard that he was looking for some sort of judgeship, but let’s just say Pooch isn’t universally beloved.
Roger Grace, the publisher of the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, questioned whether Pooch was really qualified for the job or whether the appointment was a political pick. He also claims to know that Pooch was rated not qualified by the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE).
If former state Sen. Charles S. “Chuck” Poochigian is nominated as a justice of the Fresno-based Fifth District Court of Appeal-which appears likely in light of strong support for him in that district-the question will be asked:
Is this a reward for service to the Republican Party, or does the man truly deserve the post?
Fanning the controversy will be the fact that the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation has adjudged Poochigian “not qualified” for the appeals court. (MetNews 8/21/09)
As Josh Richman points out, those recommendations are supposed to remain confidential until they are reported to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, the confirming body. By the way, that comission includes one E. Gerald Brown, Jr., you know, the guy that whomped him at the polls in 2006.
So, the question now is whether Pooch really got that “not qualified” rating from the JNE Commission, and whether he will be confirmed despite that. Grace speculates that it was Pooch’s lack of experience that could lead to the low rating, Poochigian only practiced for about 12 years before moving into politics. Typically, you would expect an appellate judge to have a bit more experience, but I doubt it would be any sort of record. And even despite the recommendation, Poochigian wouldn’t even be the first “Not Qualified” political appointment pushed through by Schwarzenegger. (That would be Elia Pirozzi.)
We will probably learn more at the hearing, but for the time being, there are a slew of unanswered questions about Chuck – Chuck – Poo-chee-gee-yun. Darnit – I wish I had that ad.