Thursday, March 16, 2006
Commissioner Tillmon Goes Unopposed in Bid for Superior Court Open Seat
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Bobbi Tillmon faces no opposition in the June 6 primary for election to an open seat on the court.
Tillmon is in the unusual position of having her name appear alone on the primary ballot. When there were separate municipal and superior courts, some municipal court judges were unopposed for election to the Superior Court, but Tillmon is the first unopposed candidate for an open seat since court unification in 2000.
A complete list of the judicial candidates along with their ballot designations appears on page 3.
“I am so thrilled...to be in the position to serve the public,” Tillmon said yesterday. She said she had “no idea” why no one ran against her, but said that it might be because she has already served 11 years as a judicial officer.
Tillmon has been raising money for months and was the first person to take out papers for the seat being vacated by Judge Morris B. Jones, who chose not to run for re-election, and who endorsed Tillmon as his successor.
Tillmon has been a commissioner since 1994, when she was ranked No. 1 out of over 180 commissioner applicants when she was elected to office by the Superior Court Judges. She has been the family law commissioner in Santa Monica for the past 11 years.
Before being appointed commissioner, Tillmon was in private practice for 16 years as a family law, criminal and civil litigator. She has been a speaker and task force member on issues of domestic violence, civil harassment and family law, including service on the state Child Support Advisory Task Force as well as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Child Support Advisory Council.
Tillmon has been honored by the Women’s Legal Clinic as the “Volunteer of the Year,” and as the “Mentor of the Year” from the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law. Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Their Children named Tillmon their “Community Champion of the Year” and the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Foundation gave Tillmon their annual “Community Service Award.”
She has been endorsed by a number of other prominent officials, including Sheriff Lee Baca, Congresswoman Diane Watson, Presiding Justice Candace Cooper and Justice Laurence Rubin of the Court of Appeal and more than six dozen active or retired Superior Court judges and other bench officers.
In contrast with Tillmon’s unopposed candidacy, the field of candidates seeking the seat of retiring Judge Paula Mabrey swelled to seven as three candidates returned papers yesterday.
The three, who had all taken out papers previously, were Deputy City Attorney Janis Barquist, consumer attorney Randolph Hammock, and Deputy District Attorney Edward J. Nison.
Nison, 48, was the last judicial candidate to turn in papers yesterday. He ran for an open seat two years ago, finishing next to last in a field of six in the primary balloting with less than 7 percent of the vote.
The seat eventually went to then-Deputy Attorney General Gus Gomez.
Nison grew up in Ohio and graduated from Indiana University before coming west to attend Hastings College of the Law. His entire 20-year legal career has been spent in the District Attorney’s Office.
He currently works in the Training Division of the District Attorney’s Office. Before joining the that division he spent more than four years prosecuting environmental crimes and over eight years in the Hardcore Gang Unit.
He said that he was running “for the same reasons I ran before.” He told the MetNews he had “dedicated my career to public service.”
“One of the best things about being a prosecutor is your ability to be sure that justice is done in every case. The same is true as a judicial officer.”
Barquist, 52, has been a deputy city attorney since 1999, representing the city in labor law matters.
She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. Her husband is a partner with Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles and the couple lived for more than three years in Tokyo while he was with the firm’s office there.
Barquist was in-house counsel for the New York State United Teachers for nine years, handling employment law litigation for local unions and members as well as contract negotiations and discipline arbitrations, before moving to San Francisco when her husband transferred to the Morrison & Foerster office there.
In San Francisco she worked for Carroll Burdick & McDonough on employment matters and in asbestos class action insurance defense, and in Los Angeles she worked at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, handling labor law and commercial and trade secret litigation, before moving to the public sector.
Barquist said she had no particular reason for choosing to run for Mabrey’s seat.
“You have to make a choice, so I made a choice,” she told the MetNews yesterday.
She added that though one the two deputy district attorneys in the race will be designated on the ballot as “criminal prosecutor,” she is happy to run with deputy city attorney as a ballot designation.
“I am not at all displeased with the title of my job,” she said. “I really love what I do. I have great fun here. I think I would make a very good judge and I think I would also enjoy being a good judge.”
Barquist added that she believes she has “a very balanced kind of background that I think works well for someone going into judicial office,” and has enjoyed serving as judge pro tem since 1999.
She said she will emphasize her community based volunteer work during her campaign and will probably not spend the $45,000 required to have a 200-word candidate statement printed in the official ballot pamphlet, but has not made other specific plans about her campaign.
The second most crowded contest is for the seat previously held by Judge Michael Knight, who retired last month. Deputy City Attorney Richard H. Loomis and Pasadena attorney David Crawford III returned papers yesterday and Deputy District Attorney Daviann L. Mitchell returned them late Tuesday.
Loomis and Mitchell had taken out papers Tuesday, while Crawford had taken his out earlier.
The three filings brought the total number of candidates for that office to six.
Also returning papers yesterday was Santa Monica attorney George C. Montgomery, who had previously announced his candidacy for the seat now held by Judge Marion Johnson.
One contest actually ended up with fewer candidates than expected, as Deputy District Attorney Michael Kraut was not on the final list of candidates for the seat being vacated by Judge Charles Rubin.
An official explanation could not be immediately obtained, but a source said that Kraut had previously been listed in error. In fact, the source said, Kraut did not return the 20 valid signatures necessary to finalize his candidacy.
The registrar of voters yesterday listed final ballot designations for all but one of the candidates seeking election to the court. The designation of Robert Davenport is under review.
Davenport, who has never litigated in California and is the author of several books, had originally hoped to run as “Retired Judge Advocate.”
Davenport is a former legal officer in the Naval Reserve.
After that requested designation was rejected, he submitted the designation “U.S. Judge Advocate.” A registrar spokesperson said that designation is now being reviewed by the County Counsel’s Office.
Davenport is the lone opponent of Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Daniel J. Lowenthal for the seat of Judge Barbara Burke, who has requested disability retirement.
Final Roster of Los Angeles Superior Court Candidates
Office No. 8
Alan H. Friedenthal
California Deputy Attorney-General
Deborah L. Sanchez
Office No. 18
David Crawford III
Stephen M. Feldman
Attorney At Law
John C. Gutierrez
Administrative Law Judge
Richard H. Loomis
Deputy City Attorney
Daviann L. Mitchell
Criminal Gang Prosecutor
Richard A. Nixon
Office No. 28
S. Paul Bruguera
Deputy Attorney General
Judith L. Meyer
Douglas W. Weitzman
Office No. 95
Susan L. Lopez-Giss
Assistant City Attorney
Office No. 102
C. Edward Mack
George C. Montgomery
Criminal Gang Prosecutor
Office No. 104
Superior Court Commissioner
Office No. 120
Dzintra I. Janavs
Judge of the Superior Court
Lynn Diane Olson
Attorney At Law
Office No. 122
[Proposed ballot designation under review by registrar]
Daniel J. Lowenthal
Office No. 144
Janis Levart Barquist
Deputy City Attorney
Stephen H. Beecher
Attorney At Law
Maria Rivas Hamar
Randoph Martin Hammock
Consumer Law Attorney
Larry H. Layton
Law School Professor
Edward J. Nison
Deputy District Attorney
David W. Stuart
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company