California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday tapped a top prosecutor from the Central District of California U.S. Attorney’s office for a state judgeship.
The governor appointed Central California Criminal Chief Christine Ewell to a seat on the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
David Schindler, who worked with Ewell as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, said Ewell is a dedicated public servant who is committed to justice.
“Christine bleeds red, white and blue,” said Schindler, a partner at Los Angeles law firm Latham & Watkins LLP.
Ewell started at the Justice Department in 1990 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Texas, serving there one year. She next worked as of counsel at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Los Angeles from 1997 to 2000, handling white collar criminal cases. Ewell rejoined the DOJ in 2002 to serve as a special assistant to then-U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang in Los Angeles.
In 2004, she became the chief of the Major Frauds Section in the U.S. Attorney’s office before ascending to Criminal Division Chief in 2007. The prosecutor successfully handled several fraud cases, including the prosecution of former television producer Joseph Medawar, who was convicted in 2006 of scamming millions of dollars from people to help create a nonexistent television show.
Ewell also worked on the extortion case involving Steven Robert Comisar, who wrote “America’s Guide to Fraud Prevention” in 1997. Comisar was convicted in 2007 of attempting to wrest $50,000 from a lawyer while he was waiting in jail for sentencing in a previous extortion case.
She found herself in the headlines in spring 2009 for e-mails she sent to her colleagues about medical marijuana dispensary prosecutions.
In February 2009, Ewell e-mailed office prosecutors an order issued by then-U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien to halt filing charges against the dispensaries – only days after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that medical marijuana prosecutions weren’t a priority for the Obama administration. She then followed up with an e-mail that instructed her coworkers to refrain from sharing the information in the memo with people who did not work at the U.S. Attorney’s office. The ban was lifted in the following days.
Ewell received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A & M University in 1983. She was awarded her law degree from Harvard University in 1986.