Monday, February 2, 2004
Van Dusen, Henry Rated ‘Qualified’; Henry to Appeal
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry, running for Los Angeles Superior Court judge, said Friday he has been tentatively rated “qualified” for judicial office by a county bar panel.
Henry said he was “absolutely stunned” by the rating and will appeal. He also criticized the panel for failing to provide reasons for the rating, as required by its own rules.
Judge Richard W. Van Dusen, who faces an election challenge from Century City attorney Daniel K. Dik, has also been rated “qualified,” his consultant, Fred Huebshcer, said. He said the judge will not appeal the rating.
Dik received the same rating and also elected not to challenge it.
Henry noted that when he ran against then-Judge Joyce Karlin in 1992, he was also rated “qualified.” But that time, he said, he was advised before his initial interview of areas of concern and given an opportunity to address them.
This time, the candidate said, his interview letter expressed no concerns and he had hoped to win the top rating.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee Handbook states that a “letter outlining any negative information about the candidate must be sent to the candidate at least 48 hours prior to the interview.”
The rules under which the committee conducts its evaluations also provide that candidates rated “qualified” or “not qualified” should be advised of “the evaluation and the reasons therefore.” The handbook elaborates on that requirement by providing that candidates tentatively rating less than “well qualified” should receive a letter “which details the specific problems uncovered by the committee.”
Henry said his letter contained no such details.
“All they said is you’re not well qualified,” he complained. “They’re not telling me why. Just, ‘You don’t get the prize.’”
The letter, Henry related, said only that “in the committee’s tentative opinion, you do not possess the qualifications indicative of superior fitness to perform the judicial function with a high degree of skill and effectiveness.”
Henry contrasted that language with specificity of the sample rating letter provided in an appendix to the committee’s ratings handbook. The language of the sample letter, he noted, reads:
“After deliberation and consideration of all of the information that it could gather, the committee decided that it could not rate you “Well Qualified” (or) (“Qualified”) because, in the committee’s tentative opinion, you [e.g., do not possess temperament or work ethic indicative of fitness to perform the judicial function satisfactorily]. More specifically, the information before the committee indicated [e.g., an erratic and confrontational demeanor, a lack of control, sexism, inadequate preparation of cases, and marginal performance].”
“So this tells me nothing.”
Henry was also critical of the LACBA panel evaluation process during the 1992 campaign, saying at the time it should be reformed by “drafting” members of minority bar associations—and even lawyers who don’t belong to bar associations—to make the committee more representative of the Los Angeles legal community.
He also appealed his rating that year, but it remained unchanged.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company