Monday, January 26, 2004
Two Judicial Candidates Receive ‘Qualified’ Ratings From County Bar Panel; One Mulls Appeal
By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer
Two candidates running for Los Angeles Superior Court judge have received “qualified” ratings from a county bar panel, the MetNews has learned.
Though ratings less than “well qualified” are tentative and subject to appeal, one of the candidates said he will not contest the evaluation.
Civil litigator Daniel K. Dik, an associate with the Century City office of Fonda & Fraser, said Friday he will not ask the full Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association to review his rating. Tentative ratings are based on evaluation by a subcommittee.
Dik is challenging Judge Richard W. Van Dusen.
Consultant Fred Huebscher said his client, Deputy District Attorney Pat Campbell, may appeal his “qualified” rating. Campbell is one of four candidates running for the seat now held by Judge Marcus Tucker, who is not seeking reelection.
Other candidates for the Tucker seat are Deputy City Attorney Miguel Dager, Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo, and Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldstern.
Escobedo and Dager said last week they had not yet been interviewed by the LACBA committee. Feldstern said Friday he has been interviewed, but has not yet learned of his rating.
Campbell and Dik are the first candidates known to have received less than the highest possible rating from the panel.
Four candidates—Judge David Wesley and Deputy District Attorneys Judith L. Meyer, Craig Mitchell, and Laura Priver—previously reported receiving “well qualified” ratings.
Wesley is being challenged for reelection by Deputy District Attorney Daniel Bershin, retired Deputy District Attorney Herb Lapin, and Los Angeles Police Dept. Sgt. Kevin Burke, a former Orange County prosecutor.
Meyer is one of five candidates vying to succeed Judge James Wright. The others are Department of Industrial Relations attorney P. Michael Erwin, Superior Court Commissioner Donna Groman, Deputy District Attorney Carol Najera, and Sherman Oaks attorney Mitchell W. Roth.
Priver is running against Deputy District Attorney Larry Diamond and Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez for the seat currently held by Judge Nancy Brown. Brown will retire Saturday.
Mitchell is a candidate for the seat currently held by Judge Rosemary Shumsky, who is not running for reelection. Also running for the seat are Deputy District Attorneys David Lopez and Craig Renetzky, Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry, Torrance attorney Michael Shook, and Superior Court Referee D. Zeke Zeidler.
Henry said last week he has yet to be interviewed. Shook, Zeidler and Lopez said they have not yet received ratings.
The LACBA committee rates candidates as “well qualified,” “qualified,” or “not qualified.”
Dik said comments made by the members of the committee who interviewed him led him to believe he received a less than “well qualified” rating because of a lack of trial experience. He noted that while he has served as a Superior Court temporary judge since 1996, hearing small claims and traffic matters, matters that go to trial at his insurance defense firm are handled by more senior attorneys.
The candidate also pointed out he has handled over 200 summary judgment motions, about 150 of them successful. But he said he felt it would be “whining” to challenge the rating.
“I’m a big boy and I’ll accept their opinion,” Dik declared.
Huebscher, who represents Van Dusen, said he believed the judge had yet to be interviewed by the committee.
The committee’s definitions for the ratings it uses are:
“To be ‘Well Qualified,’ the candidate must possess professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicative of superior fitness to perform the judicial function with a high degree of skill and effectiveness.
“To be ‘Qualified,’ the candidate must possess professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function satisfactorily.
“To be ‘Not Qualified,’ the candidate must lack one or more of the qualities of professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function satisfactorily.”
In addition to a questionnaire detailing professional experience, the committee asks candidates to provide 75 references who can be contacted for their opinions.
There are 36 candidates in nine judicial races on the March 2 primary ballot. Four incumbent judges are being challenged and 24 candidates are competing for five open seats.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company