Lead LAUSD Attorney Steps Down to Assume Judgeship

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The lead attorney for the Los Angeles Unified School District will be stepping down to assume a judgeship in Orange County.

Thomas Delaney was appointed this week to the Orange County Superior Court. Governor Jerry Brown appointed him judge Wednesday.

This comes more than a month after the judge in the Miramonte sex abuse civil cases levied sanctions against Delaney’s law firm and LAUSD for failing to reveal certain evidence in the child abuse cases.

A representative from the governor’s office had no comment about what led to the appointment.

LAUSD officials, meanwhile, point out the sanctions against the district are being appealed.

The school district has already replaced Delaney with another partner from the Sedgwick law firm - Craig Barnes.

A spokesman for the law firm said Barnes has been a part of the team that’s been working on the Miramonte case.

The Miramonte abuse case involved former teacher Mark Berndt, who pleaded no contest in November to 23 counts of lewd conduct involving his students and received a sentence of 25 years.

As NBC4 has reported, Delaney had been charging the district nearly $500 an hour for his services.

In more than two years since the case started, the charges for representation are believed to be in the $5 million range.

Delaney also led the settlements of cases against teacher Martin Springer, of which a source at LAUSD tells NBC4 the district had no prior knowledge of allegations and was therefore not liable for those cases.

The civil case is set to go to trial on Sept. 16 without Delaney.

Allegations were also made against Springer. The criminal case against him was dropped.

"Generally, our office does not comment on the internal deliberation process of selecting judicial candidates," said Evan Westrup, from Brown's office, in a statement.

Sean Rossall, a spokesman for the Sedgwick law firm, which is representing LAUSD, released the following statement:

"The sanctions order is being reviewed by the appellate court. That order was against the school district and Sedgwick LLP, not Mr. Delaney. While Mr. Delaney’s appointment is a loss to our legal team, and a gain for the Orange County Superior Court, the school district has every confidence in the team it has in place going forward. As far as settlements, the school district stands behind its efforts and its decisions to resolve all of the claims arising out of miramonte elementary school."

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