B.S., Engineering, UCLA
J.D., Hastings College of the Law
M.P.W. (Master of Professional Writing), USC
Professor Carnahan is a retired Commissioner of the Superior Court, Los Angeles County. He served as Superior Court commissioner from 2000 to 2013, and before that was (1984-2000) Commissioner of the Municipal Court, South Bay Judicial District (Torrance), Los Angeles County. As a judicial officer he presided over a variety of Municipal and Superior Court calendars, including criminal and civil trials and motions, small claims, unlawful detainers, probate, and other matters.
He graduated with a B.S. in Engineering from UCLA (1968) and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco (1975). Before his admission to the bar he served two years in the U.S. Army (1971-73) and worked for two years (1968-70) as a test engineer for the Hughes Aircraft Company. His legal work began in a sole practice, and he eventually worked in a series of larger firms, emphasizing civil and criminal practice in state and federal courts, primarily in the areas of insured and products liability litigation.
From 1978-81 he was Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Law Center and Director of the Legal Services Office (a grant-funded legal clinic, staffed by law students, offering low-cost legal services to the faculty and staff of the university). He has also held faculty appointments at the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, Loyola Law School, Northrup University School of Law, and the El Camino Community College.
His academic interests are in the areas of criminal and civil procedure, clinical education, legal services, legal writing, legal and judicial ethics, small claims, judicial administration and politics, and judicial elections. He has written several law-related books, and since the 1980s has been a regular columnist for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and The Bench, the quarterly journal of the California Judges Association. He has written over 200 columns on law-related subjects.
During his time as a lawyer and judicial officer Professor Carnahan has served on a number of bar association committees, and on Superior Court and Judicial Council advisory committees, emphasizing work on civil procedure, judicial education, and the management of temporary judges. He was a consultant to the State Bar for the development of the 1980 Experimental Bar Exam.