Central District of California | The verification room
Judge Hernan D. Vera currently sits in Los Angeles Superior Court, a popular source for California judicial nominees. Although his time on the bench is fairly brief, his lengthy tenure with the pro bono firm Public Counsel is likely to bring scrutiny in evaluating Vera’s judicial nomination.
Hernan D. Vera earned a BA with honors from Stanford University in 1991 and a JD from UCLA Law School in 1994. After graduating, Vera briefly joined the Los Angeles office of O ‘Melveny & Myers before clerking for Judge Consuelo Marshall on the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He then spent a year as an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) before returning to O’Melveny.
In 2002, Vera joined the public interest law firm Public Counsel and became President and CEO in 2008. In 2015, he moved to become a director at Bird Marella PC.
In 2020, Vera was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to Los Angeles Superior Court, where he currently sits.
History of the seat
Vera was appointed to the United States District Court for the Central District of California to a seat vacated by Judge Margaret Morrow on October 29, 2015. Despite opening the seat with more than a year left in the Obama administration, the administration has not put a candidate to fill the vacancy.
In October 2018, the Trump administration appointed Jeremy Rosen, a Los Angeles-based appellate attorney and longtime member of the Federalist Society. However, Rosen’s appointment to the point of death due to opposition from California senators, and it was never confirmed.
While beginning his career in private practice, Vera spent a significant amount of time with the public interest law firm, Public Counsel, where he served as President and CEO. Among the cases he handled there, Vera sued the Hollywood (CA) Presbyterian Medical Center for “throwing” a paraplegic homeless man in a skid row. See lawsuit says hospital ‘dumped’ homeless man, Healthcare Risk Management, March 1, 2008. Vera also sued the Pasadena School District for allowing children placed in group homes to attend school. Jennifer English, Lawsuit filed against Pasadena School District on behalf of Foster YouthCity News Service, June 27, 2006.
Since 2015, Vera has been a director at Bird Marella, focusing primarily on commercial litigation. For example, Vera represented defendants in a private lawsuit for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in the Central District of California. See Tatung Co. v. Shu Tze Hsu, 217 F. Supp. 3d 1138 (CD Cal. 2016). Vera also represented a charter school to challenge tax assessments that are not imposed on public schools. Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Inc. vs. Prang, 46 Cal. App. 5th 270 (2020).
Since 2020, Vera has served as a judge in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. In this role, Vera presides over trial court cases in criminal, civil, family and other state law matters. Vera’s brief tenure doesn’t say enough about a judicial philosophy.
Writings and statements
During her time on the Public Council, Vera frequently wrote and spoke about the law. For example, in a 2012 column, Vera noted that the lack of comprehensive immigration reform leads to “rampant fraud” targeting immigrants. Hernan Vera, The Silent Victims of Immigration ScamsPolitical Machine, May 18, 2012. He also wrote in support of “access to justice” initiatives, noting that public interest lawyers play an important role in providing free legal services to underserved people. See Hernan D. Vera, Closing Argument: In Search of Big Solutions for Access to Justice in California37 Los Angeles Lawyer 68 (November 2014).
Additionally, Vera argued in favor of a Los Angeles ordinance against predatory lending, James K. Hahn, Los Angeles council expected to approve predatory measure, American Banker, December 4, 2002, and against a ballot proposal that would reduce the lawsuits of several plaintiffs in California to class action lawsuits. Steve Lawrence, Targets of unfair competition law are trying to make its use more difficultAP State & Local Wire, July 8, 2004.
In 2014, Vera presented former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the William O. Douglas Award for Public Counsel, noting that Clinton “embodies the highest American values of civic engagement and public service.” Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Books, Receives Award While Visiting Los AngelesCity News Service, June 19, 2014.
While at Bird Marella, Vera criticized the cooperation between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and ICE, stating, “…people should know that [the Sheriff’s Department is] work for them only, not for immigration and customs. See City News Service, Inc., Watchdog Group wants the Sheriff’s Department to freeze ICENovember 16, 2018 (quoting Hernan Vera).
As a longtime public interest lawyer with extensive commercial litigation experience as well, Vera would be able to start as a trial judge. Nonetheless, his nomination is likely to draw opposition for his long history of civil rights litigation, as well as potentially for his praise of Hillary Clinton.