Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, February 24, 2006


Page 1


Daniel Lowenthal to Seek Seat of Judge Barbara Burke




Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Daniel Lowenthal yesterday took out nominating papers for the seat of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Burke.

Lowenthal said he does not expect the incumbent, one of a handful of judges who have not already taken out candidacy papers, to run. Burke, who had been sitting in Pasadena and has been a judge since 1981 and was a court commissioner for three years before that, has been on sick leave for more than a year, and the MetNews learned yesterday that she has filed for disability retirement.

Lowenthal said he has put together a “formidable” campaign, raising $300,000, retaining two political consultants with a long history of judicial campaign successes, and gaining the endorsements of more than 75 elected officials, including Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragoisa and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.

While his fundraising is continuing, he said he hopes not to have to spend the entire amount. “I... do not intend for this election to go past June,” he said, expressing a desire to be able to contribute to candidates in runoffs for open seats.

Prominent Family

Lowenthal, 38, is the son of state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Long Beach Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who is also a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, representing the cities in the Southeast part of the county.

The candidate’s wife, Dr. Suja Lowenthal, is the current president of the Long Beach Unified School District board, having been elected to the seat that her mother-in-law gave up to serve on the council.

Lowenthal has been a lawyer since 1994. He began his career at the Santa Monica firm then known as Silver, Schaeffer & Hadden, primarily representing peace officer organizations, but moved to the City Attorney’s Office a short time later.

His plan at the time, he said, was to gain some trial experience and then move on. But he stayed, he explained, because he “loved the work [and] loved the office,” which is where he met his wife, who was then administrative manager of the office’s domestic violence program.

He started out prosecuting misdemeanors before moving into labor relations, an area of longstanding interest. A psychology major at UC Santa Barbara, he got his law degree at Cornell University, where he also studied at the famed School of Labor and Industrial Relations.

He currently heads one of the office’s labor relations units.

He has hired Cerrell Associates, Inc. to run the campaign, while Parke Skelton will oversee a direct mail campaign targeting areas where he has prominent endorsers, he says.

In another election-related development, Woodland Hills attorney Stephen Beecher took out papers to run for the seat being vacated by Judge Paula Mabrey, who is retiring in April.

Beecher, a trial lawyer, originally took out papers for the seat of Judge Mary Ann Murphy, but when Murphy made it clear she would fight any challenge, he switched to the seat from which Judge Ruth Essegian is retiring next week.

No Challenge

When the governor announced last week that he intends to appoint Los Angeles Deputy County Counsel Victor Wright to that seat, Beecher said he would challenge Wright. But Beecher told the MetNews that in light of Wright’s appointment, it is not clear that an election will take place this year.

At issue is the application of Art. VI, Sec. 16(c) of the state Constitution, which provides that “[a] vacancy [on the Superior Court] shall be filled by election to a full term at the next general election after the second January 1 following the vacancy.”

That could be taken literally to mean that no election to fill Essegian’s seat, or those of any of the other judges who are retiring between now and the June 6 primary, would appear on the ballot. But in Stanton v. Panish (1980) 28 Cal.3d 107, the court held that an election will take place if a candidate, other than the incumbent, has returned nomination papers before a successor to the incumbent has assumed the office.


Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company