Although the Web site of the L.A. Daily Journal, the local legal community's Variety, sits behind a paid-subscription firewall, try to track down reporter Ciaran McEvoy's August 14 profile of U.S. District Judge George Wu. All judges have distinctive personalities, and Wu has a reputation for being the Hamlet of jurists, known for sometimes taking excruciatingly long periods of time to rehash arguments in open court before finally rendering an opinion. Readers to L.A. Daily will recall how he put off, during the Lori Drew "MySpace Hoax" trial, a decision on the defense's Rule 29 motion to have all charges against Drew dismissed for lack of evidence and to have her declared innocent. Wu must have been impressed by the November, 2008 motion because he mulled it over all the way past the jury verdict and into July, 2009, when Wu finally tossed out the few misdemeanor convictions jurors had hung on Drew. Then Wu announced that even this sentencing decision was "tentative."
In his DJ story ("Judge Deliberates - and Deliberates Some More"), McEvoy notes that "rolled eyes, shrugged shoulders and impatient sighs often follow one of Wu's delays."
McEvoy, who recently helped break the story
of a federal investigation involving former school board member David
Tokofsky and L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, says this of the high-profile
conviction of Morro Bay medical-marijuana dispensary operator Charlie
Lynch: "Two months and three sentencing hearings later, Wu handed down
a one-year sentence on June 11 and said he would issue a written
explanation of why he gave Lynch less than the mandatory minimum of
five years that the government was seeking. Attorneys are still waiting
for his official ruling."
To be fair (and Wu has his supporters among grateful defense
attorneys), the federal judge is known for his rigorous legal research,
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long work hours and deft use of the Socratic method to arrive at
decisions after consulting lawyers and government prosecutors. The main
complaint certainly isn't that Wu shoots from the hip -- but that he
seldom shoots, period.