Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, October 27, 2003


Page 1


Prosecutor Judith Meyer to Seek Seat of Judge James L. Wright

Glendale Councilman Gus Gomez Eyes Two Superior Court Open Seats




Deputy District Attorney Judith L. Meyer said Friday she would seek the seat of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James L. Wright.

Meyer said she will file for Wright’s seat when declaration-of-intention filing begins this morning. The Torrance-based prosecutor said she has been assured that the incumbent, who sits in Meyer’s home city of Long Beach, is not planning to run for re-election.

Wright, who has been a Superior Court judge since 1987, could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Meyer announced in July that she would run for an open seat, becoming the first candidate to do so in the current election cycle. Since then, 11 other candidates—including six of Meyer’s fellow deputies—have said they will file for open seats.

The most recent candidate is state Deputy Attorney General Gus Gomez, who also serves on the Glendale City Council. Gomez said Friday he will run for an open seat but has not decided which one.

With Wright not running, there will be at least three races in which there is no incumbent.

The deadline for filing in such races is Nov. 10; incumbents and their challengers must file by Nov. 5.

Judges Richard Hubbell and Marcus Tucker have said they do not intend to run, while Judge Nancy Brown said she is undecided and Judge Chesley N. McKay Jr. has not commented on rumors he plans not to run.

Temperament Cited

Gomez, who currently handles licensing cases after having joined the Attorney General’s Office as a criminal appellate lawyer 10 years ago, said he was qualified for the bench based on “the breadth of my experience as well as my temperament.”

Seeking open seats, besides Meyer and Gomez, are Deputy District Attorneys David Patrick Campbell, Laura Priver, Daniel Feldstern, Edward Nison, Craig Renetzky and Jeffrey Gootman; Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo, Superior Court Research Attorney Kevin Notre, Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez, and sole practitioner Larry H. Layton.

A total of 139 Superior Court judges are slated to be elected next year, with the primary election to be held March 2 and runoffs where necessary at the Nov. 2 general election. Traditionally, all but a few of the incumbents seeking new terms run unopposed, meaning their names do not appear on the ballot.

Williams Opposed

Thus far, the only judge with announced challengers is Alexander H. Williams III. P. Michael Erwin, a workers’ compensation specialist, took out papers last week to run against Williams, and Westlake Village lawyer James Gustafson had previously announced his intention to take on the 19-year jurist.

There were reports last week that members of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys are looking to run one of their number against Judge Dan Oki, the former criminal courts supervising judge who has borne criticism since a court commissioner—reportedly acting on Oki’s orders—declined to keep his arraignment courtroom open past normal hours on the Tuesday following the Memorial Day weekend.

As a result, a number of suspects were released, and while most either returned to court voluntarily or were held on other charges, several absconded and one is accused of having committed a murder in June. District Attorney Steve Cooley said the decision to close the court was “unilateral and arbitrary,” but court officials blamed Cooley’s office for not filing charges earlier in the day.

ADDA President Steven Ipsen said Friday there might be such a candidate, but that it would not be he. “I can’t raise that kind of money,” he told the MetNews.

Oki, meanwhile, said in a release that he has raised more than $60,000 for the campaign, which will be guided by consultant Fred Huebscher, a veteran of several judicial contests who has also been retained by Priver. Oki added that he has gained endorsements from 156 of his fellow bench officers.

The newest candidate for an open seat, Gomez, is a Stanford Law School graduate who began his career as a transactional lawyer with a Century City firm, then moved to the Beverly Hills office of Brown & Woods, a New York-based firm (which has since merged with Sidley and Austin to become Sidley Austin Brown & Wood). He specialized there in municipal finance.

Gomez was elected to the Glendale council in 1999 and re-elected last April.

While he has never run countywide before, he said he intends to rely on his “proven track record.” And while there may be “a different pool of donors,” he said he expects to spend close to $100,000, as he did in his last council race.

Consultant Parke Skelton, who directed his council campaigns and is no stranger to judicial elections, will guide his current effort as well, Gomez said.

He added that he has not decided on a ballot designation, but ran as “Prosecutor/Councilman” in his last race and is likely to use some form of the highly popular “Prosecutor/Councilman” designation in this contest.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company