Friday, February 13, 2004
Feldstern, Priver, Mitchell, Meyer for Open Seats
This newspaper has been making endorsements in judicial races since 1978. This year’s crop of judicial candidates is the best we’ve seen in races for open seats. Below are our endorsements in four of the five open-seat races. We previously endorsed Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Gootman for Office No. 29.
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 18
There are three top-notch candidates in this race: Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldstern, Deputy City Attorney Miguel Angel Dager, and Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo.
Also running is Deputy District Attorney Pat Campbell.
While it’s a tough call, we believe Feldstern has the best set of credentials. He’s been a prosecutor for 18 years, presently supervising the Glendale-Burbank office. At the start of his legal career, he handled civil cases, practicing with the firm of Trope and Trope.
We believe he would handle cases deftly and with objectivity, yet not cold objectivity. There is a lack of rigidity to him.
Dager has been with the City Attorney’s Office for 14 years and has handled both civil and criminal cases. He is level-headed, mature, and fully qualified to be a judge.
Escobedo has judicial experience, having served as a Superior Court referee since 1998, fulltime since last year. She would be an asset to the judiciary as a full-fledged member.
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 52
Deputy District Attorney Laura Priver has been a prosecutor for more than 19 years. She is a well regarded lawyer, devoid of controversy. She works well with people, is able, professional, and definitely ready to assume judicial duties.
Deputy District Attorney Larry Diamond, while having supporters in his office, is seen by some as a smart alec.
Workers’ Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez ran two years ago. His legal knowledge is confined to workers’ compensation. Such cases are not heard in the Superior Court.
Priver is the clear choice for this office.
Craig Jordan MitchellLos Angeles Superior Court Office No. 53
Two of the five candidates in this race stand out. They are Deputy District Attorney Craig Mitchell and Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Zeke Zeidler.
Both have the requisite legal knowledge, temperament and commitment.
While Zeidler does possess bench experience, having served as a referee since 1998, he has presided exclusively over dependency cases, which is what he handled during his six years in law practice. These are cases of a unique nature, and Zeidler would have some boning up to do in order to preside over civil litigation and criminal cases.
Mitchell, who was admitted to practice in October, 1992, has been a prosecutor since 1994. Though he has not handled civil cases, his experience is broader than Zeidler’s.
Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry also has the capacity to serve as a judge. He has been in practice for three decades. He’s upbeat and good natured; if he were a judge, his would be a comfortable courtroom for attorneys to practice in.
Private practitioner Michael Shook and Deputy District Attorneys Craig Renetzky and David Lopez are not in the same league with Mitchell or Zeidler. They also come up short when contrasted with Henry.
Deputy District Attorney Judith Meyer, though an attorney for only slightly over 10 years, has an unmistakable aptitude for judicial service.
She is intelligent, articulate, dedicated, and possessed of ideal judicial temperament.
Meyer, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1993, has been a prosecutor since 1994, first in Ventura County, then here.
We regard as nitpicking the criticism by a Los Angeles County Bar Assn. committee that it was misleading for her to have recited in her candidate statement that she is “assigned to a Special Victims Unit.” She works in the “Victim Impact Program” which, generically, is a special victims unit. She simply should not have used capital letters, but she did say a “Special Victims Unit,” implying generic usage.
Two of Meyer’s opponents are worthy candidates: Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Donna Groman and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Carol Najera.
Groman has 24 years of experience in law, including seven years as a subordinate judicial officer. Though caring and conscientious, she has more than the normal share of detractors, and was, in effect, chased out of Inglewood by virtue of a blanket affidavit policy of the District Attorney’s Office.
Najera is bright and able, but has gotten into some personality clashes, and has been rated “not qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. She has been a deputy district attorney for more than 18 years, and was a prosecutor of the Menendez brothers for the murders of their parents.
Also running are P. Michael Erwin, an attorney for the Department of Industrial Relations who is billing himself on the ballot, deceptively, as a “Criminal Prosecutor,” and attorney Mitchell Roth, who is lacking in the experience and knowledge expected of a judge.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company