Federal Judge Roger T. Benitez and the founding director of San Diego's Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, Morris S. Casuto, are the newest members of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) Board of Trustees. The election of the new trustees was announced this week by Randy M. Grossman, TJSL Trustee and Chair of the Board's Governance and Long Range Planning Committee.
"Judge Benitez is a highly respected member of the Federal Bench and brings a sharp legal mind and sound judgment to an already strong Board," according to Professor Grossman, a San Diego attorney and sports agent who graduated from TJSL in 1994 and also is an adjunct at the law school. "His multifaceted local background as a 1978 alumnus of the law school, private practitioner, state court judge and federal judge, gives Judge Benitez a unique perspective that will greatly benefit the TJSL community."
Regarding the election of Casuto, Grossman noted, "Morris Casuto has been recognized nationally as an expert on hate crimes during a career that has spanned more than 40 years. He graciously served as an outside member on the recent TJSL Dean Search Committee responsible for the hiring of new Dean Thomas Guernsey and impressed everyone with his dedication and integrity. Mr. Casuto knows San Diego and the Board looks forward to his service and input in the areas of leadership and development."
The Honorable Roger T. Benitez was first appointed to the Superior Court of California in 1997, after previously working in general practice with a law firm. He served as Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division before being appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District in 2001. In 2004, he was appointed to the District Judge position he now holds. Judge Benitez has sat by designation numerous times with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and also has sat on assignment in Arizona, Guam and Saipan. He is a charter member of the Wallace Inn of Court, currently chairs the Southern District's IT Committee and is a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure, having been appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Morris Casuto retired in 2010 after serving for 37 years as a member of the Professional Staff of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). During his tenure with the ADL, he developed a national reputation as an expert on hate crimes as well as on extremist and terrorist organizations. For more than 10 years, he taught for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, where he helped conceive, write and teach a unique multi-day hate/bias crime seminar. Casuto also served as Chair of the U.S. Attorney's Hate Crimes Working Group, which was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to develop a hate crime victim assistance project.
Casuto and Judge Benitez join an impressive group of TJSL Trustees, including: Randy K. Jones, Board Chair and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California in San Diego; the Honorable William McCurine, Jr., Federal Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California; San Diego Superior Court Judges Browder Willis, a 1983 TJSL graduate, and Lillian Y. Lim (Retired), a 1977 TJSL graduate; Charles Abdelnour, former longtime San Diego City Clerk and a 1974 TJSL graduate; Fred Gerson, former San Diego Padres Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer; J. Dennis Burks, former Executive Vice-President and General Manager of SeaWorld San Diego; Mark C. Zebrowski, Managing Partner of the San Diego office of Morrison Foerster; Kendall DeMatteo Berkey, a San Diego attorney specializing in municipal, public and redevelopment law and a 1994 TJSL graduate; Richard D. Prochazka, a prominent San Diego labor law attorney; Bryant Garth, a UC Irvine law professor and former Dean of Southwestern Law School and the Indiana University-Bloomington School of Law; and Grossman, whose sports clients include Padres Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
More information about the TJSL Board of Trustees can be viewed at www.tjsl.edu/about-tjsl/trustees.