On January 21, 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California presented the Ceremony for the Passing of the Gavel as Chief Judge from the Honorable Larry Alan Burns to the Honorable Dana M. Sabraw. This ceremony commemorates the passing of the title of Chief Judge between judges in the Southern District.
The Chief Judge takes on additional executive and administrative responsibilities on behalf of the other District Judges. These responsibilities include overseeing courthouse projects, drafting general orders, revising the Court's Local Rules, and most recently, coordinating the Court's operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By statute, a District Judge may serve as Chief Judge for up to seven years. In the Southern District, the judges have agreed to serve for up to four years. Judge Burns passed the gavel to Judge Sabraw after completing two years as Chief Judge.
At the ceremony, Judge Anthony J. Battaglia chronicled the history of the Southern District's Chief Judges. Judge Roger T. Benitez then provided an overview of Judge Burns's career. Next, the Court played a tribute video for Judge Burns. Narrated by Magistrate Judge Michael S. Berg, this tribute featured segments from many of the leaders of San Diego's federal community, including Robert S. Brewer, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, and Kathy Nestor, the Executive Director of Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.
In passing the gavel, Judge Burns thanked his law clerks and staff for their many years of service. He also shared that the Southern District's tradition of collegiality is a point of pride and spoke about navigating the Court through the pandemic. Judge Burns commended the Court's staff and all of the community stakeholders for their steadfast work throughout this challenging time.
Upon accepting the gavel, Chief Judge Sabraw thanked his family, staff, and colleagues for their tireless support. To learn more about Chief Judge Sabraw, see Moana McMullan's "Three Pillars" in the Life of United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw.
The San Diego Chapter thanks Past-President David Finn and Special Events Chair Janet Cabral for their help with this event. The Chapter also thanks Janet Dean Gertz and Licia E. Vaughn, Co-Chairs of the Lawyer Representatives for the Southern District of California.