Monday, March 1, 2004
Eight Endorsed in Judicial Contests
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.
We believe Feldstern has the best set of credentials. He, as well as each of the other candidates we endorse for open seats, is also viewed in positive light by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., its Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee having bestowed the rating of “well qualified.”
A fourth candidate, Deputy District Attorney Patrick David Campbell, does not have the makings of a judge.
Jeffrey S. Gootman
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 29
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey S. Gootman—who carries around with him a laptop computer stuffed with thousands of case summaries he prepared—has been a prosecutor since 1985 and, from 1980-85 was a civil practitioner.
We believe he possesses the knowledge and temperament to serve ably as a member of the Superior Court.
Deputy District Attorneys Lori Jones and Edward Nison and Deputy Attorney General Gus Gomez also have experience and respective sets of assets. Also running are perennial candidate Larry Layton and attorney C. Edward Mack.
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 has lesser qualifications. Worker’s Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez does not possess sufficient legal knowledge outside the area of workers compensation to be fit for the post he seeks.
Craig Jordan Mitchell
Los 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.
We believe Mitchell’s broader background renders him the better choice.
Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry also has attributes that make him a praiseworthy contender.
Private practitioner Michael Shook and Deputy District Attorneys Craig Renetzky and David Lopez are not in the same league with Mitchell, Zeidler and Henry.
Judith Levey Meyer
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 69
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.
Two of Meyer’s opponents are worthy candidates: Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Donna Groman and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Carol Najera.
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.
Daniel K. Dik
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 67
Incumbent Richard Van Dusen is erratic, more faithful to whim than to the law. Private practitioner Daniel Dik does possess the credentials for a judgeship. While the Los Angeles Times labels him “lackluster,” and endorses Van Dusen, we prefer a bland, solid lawyer to a judge who is colorful, controversial, and an embarrassment to the bench.
David S. Wesley
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 72
Judge David S. Wesley last May 28 merely relayed a message to a commissioner from the criminal courts’ supervising judge not to run late in arraigning suspects. One suspect who didn’t get arraigned was released and, though the usual procedure would have been for him to have been re-arrested, wasn’t. He spurned the order to return the next day, and, while AWOL, allegedly killed a man.
Wesley did not commit the killing—though you would hardly know that from the railings of those capitalizing on the episode.
Though a model judge, dedicated to his job, Wesley now faces three election opponents in tomorrow’s election.
There is no arguable basis for turning David Wesley out of office.
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 95
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dan Oki has drawn three challengers in the March 2 primary. Why? Because of the administrative gaffe in connection with the May 28 release of suspects, a mix-up for which Oki bears little fault. The candidacies of three opponents were inspired by irresponsible rhetoric in a full-page newspaper ad placed by the head of the District Attorneys Assn., an ad he falsely portrayed as having been placed by the organization.
It is to the discredit of the group that it recently reelected its president, Steve Ipsen, thus ratifying his radicalism.
The candidates in the oust-Oki campaigns have failed to point to any shortcomings on Oki’s part as a judge. They are attacking a single decision of his as an administrator. What he is running for is not an administrative post. He is seeking to retain his seat as a judge.
There could be no justification for removing from the bench a faithful public servant whose juridical performance cannot be questioned even by election opponents.
The campaign against Oki and Wesley is founded on lynch mob mentality and says much about those who are leading the charge.
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 111
Incumbent Chesley McKay is admittedly unable to perform the work of a judge. He has filed an application for a disability retirement.
Even if he were healthy, there would be the issue of his arrogance.
His challenger, Stella Owens-Murrell, has failed to provide evidence of an ability to function as a judge. Her campaign has taken the form of the posting of huge signs, generally on fences surrounding vacant lots. She glibly indicates she has no indication that this is illegal, but provides no assurance that she gained landowners' permission.
She is uninspiring as a candidate.
Perhaps voters would be well advised to reelect McKay, giving the appointment to the governor, who would make that appointment only after careful scrutiny by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
In any event, we offer no endorsement.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company