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Lourdes G. Baird: 1935—: Judge

Appointed U.s. Attorney By Republicans

Baird attended secretarial school for a time before marrying William T. Baird, a businessman, at age 21. They couple had three children, and Baird was a homemaker living in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles when she decided to return to school. She began taking classes at Los Angeles City College on a part-time basis, and it took her five years to earn an associate of arts degree. From there she transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and earned her sociology degree in 1973. She applied to and was accepted at UCLA's law school, and did well despite the hardship of a 1975 divorce. After graduating a year later, she took the state bar exam and passed it.

Baird began her career as an attorney at the age of 41. Her first job was as a prosecutor in the United States attorney's office in Los Angeles. Six years later, in 1983, she went into private practice as partner in Baird, Munger and Myers. In 1986 she accepted an appointment as a municipal court judge in Los Angeles, and two years later became a juvenile-court judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Baird's legal acumen attracted the attention of U.S. Senator Pete Wilson, a Republican, and he proposed her name for a soon-to-be vacant U.S. attorney post in the Los Angeles area; the nomination was somewhat unusual because of Baird's Democratic political affiliation. Her name was seconded by U.S. President George H. W. Bush, and her appointment was confirmed a few months later by Senate vote. When she was sworn into office in July of 1990, Baird became one of a few U.S. attorneys in history to be appointed during a political administration not of his or her own political affiliation. "Baird will become one of only five female U.S. attorneys in the country and one of the few who speaks Spanish fluently," wrote Weinstein of the Los Angeles Times at the time. "She also is the first grandmother ever selected for the post."

At a Glance . . .

Born on May 12, 1935, in Quito, Ecuador; daughter of James C. Gillespie and Josefina Delgado; married William T. Baird (a businessman), 1956 (divorced, 1975); children: William Jr., Maria, and John. Education: Attended secretarial school in Los Angeles, c. 1954; Los Angeles City College, associate of arts degree; University of California at Los Angeles, BA, 1973, JD, 1976. Politics: Democrat.

Career: United States Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, CA, prosecutor, 1977-83; Baird, Munger and Myers, partner, 1983-86; East Los Angeles Municipal Court, judge, 1986-87; Los Angeles Municipal Court, judge, 1987; Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Court division, judge, 1988; California's Central District, U.S. attorney, 1990-92, district court judge, 1992–.

Member: UCLA School of Law Alumni Association, president, 1981-84; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, advisory committee, 1983-86; California Women Lawyers Association; Mexican American Bar Association; Latino Judges Association; National Association of Women Judges.

Baird's role as U.S. attorney in Los Angeles was an important one. As Weinstein noted, the former judge "assumes her post at a time when the area is considered one of the major national centers of drug crime, money laundering, savings and loan scams and defense contracting fraud, four principal areas of concern to federal prosecutors," the Los Angeles Times article noted. When she took over, there was even a federal grand jury investigation at her office of Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley for his possible links to a banking scandal.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Miguel Angel Asturias: 1899-1974: Writer to Don Berrysmith Biography - Grew up in the Pacific NorthwestLourdes G. Baird: 1935—: Judge Biography - Appointed U.s. Attorney By Republicans, Confronted With Variety Of High Profile Cases