Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Page 1


Deputy City Attorney Gets Top Rating in Judicial Race


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Deputy City Attorney Miguel Dager said yesterday he has been rated “well qualified” for the Los Angeles Superior Court bench by a county bar evaluation panel.

Dager, who has three opponents in the race to succeed Judge Marcus Tucker, is the first in that contest to have received the highest of the three possible ratings. Two of the other contenders—Deputy District Attorneys Pat Campbell and Daniel Feldstern—are appealing their tentative ratings.

Campbell was rated “qualified.” Feldstern declined to say what rating he received, but said his hearing before the full Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association is scheduled to take place Feb. 5.

The fourth candidate, Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo, was to meet with the committee yesterday evening.

Tentative ratings are based on evaluation by a subcommittee. Ratings less than “well qualified” can be appealed to the full panel.

The committee rates candidates as either “well qualified,” “qualified,” or “not qualified” for election.

Two county prosecutors running in other races said yesterday they are also appealing their tentative ratings. Both said they have been asked to appear before the full panel tomorrow evening.

Deputy District Attorney David Lopez said he received a tentative rating of “qualified.” Deputy District Attorney Hilary Anne Rhonan declined to specify what tentative rating she received.

Lopez is one of six candidates seeking the seat currently held by Judge Rosemary Shumsky. The others are Deputy Attorney General Robert Henry, Deputy District Attorney Craig Renetzky, Torrance attorney Michael Shook, and Superior Court Referee D. Zeke Zeidler.

Zeidler has been rated “well qualified.” Henry said yesterday he had not yet heard from the county bar panel.

Shook could not be reached for comment yesterday, but said Monday he had not yet received a rating. Renetzky did not return a MetNews phone call.

Rhonan is among three challengers to Judge Dan Oki. Oki said yesterday he has not yet been rated and his other two opponents—Deputy District Attorney Mark Debbaudt and Encino lawyer Eugene Salute—said the same.

Salute said he, like Escobedo, was scheduled to meet with the panel yesterday evening.

Several of the 36 candidates running for judge in the March 2 primary have noted that the Los Angeles Times has distributed questionnaires to the candidates which ask them to provide their LACBA ratings. The questionnaires are due back Friday.

The candidates have been advised that the newspaper may not conduct evaluation interviews before the primary.

Vice Chair Brent Braun acknowledged yesterday that the number of candidates has posed a challenge for the LACBA committee, but denied that the process is being driven by a Times deadline.

“That’s pure speculation and conjecture” on the part of candidates, Braun said, though he added that with the primary only 34 days away “there isn’t a whole lot of fudge room here.”

He declined to say when the panel anticipates completing its work and making final ratings public.

“When we’re done, we’re done,” Braun said.

Besides Dager and Zeidler, others candidates who have so far reported receiving the bar panel’s highest rating are Judge David Wesley and Deputy District Attorneys Judith L. Meyer and Craig Mitchell.

Meyer is one of five candidates running to succeed Judge James Wright. Mitchell is among six seeking the seat currently held by Judge Rosemary Shumsky, while Priver and two others seek the seat which will become vacant Saturday when Judge Nancy Brown retires.

Wesley faces three challengers in his bid to retain his seat.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company