Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, May 9, 2006


Page 1


Janavs, Meyer Rated ‘Exceptionally Well Qualified’ for Election




Staff Writer

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs and Deputy District Attorney Judith L. Meyer have been rated “exceptionally well qualified” for election to judicial office in the June 6 primary by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the MetNews has learned.

During each biennial election season, the County Bar rates all candidates seeking election to the Superior Court in contested races. This year marks a change in the process, in which the rating of exceptionally well qualified has been added to the “well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified” ratings that have been used since the system was set up in the 1970s.

Under the longstanding LACBA procedures, candidates are required to respond to an extensive questionnaire, and are then interviewed by a subcommittee of the association’s Judicial Evaluations Committee, which then recommends a rating to the full committee.

High Threshold

The full committee then assigns a rating. Under the new procedures, 75 percent of the committee must agree in order for an exceptionally well qualified rating to be assigned.

Any rating less than exceptionally well qualified is considered tentative, and a candidate may appeal and appear before the full committee in an effort to upgrade the rating. A candidate who appeals does, however, risk the possibility of a lesser rating, a circumstance that befell a couple of candidates in the last election cycle.

Janavs is the only judge of the Superior Court to draw a challenge this year. A rating could not be immediately ascertained for her opponent, Lynn Olson, who did not participate in the rating process, which usually translates into a rating of not qualified.

Meyer, who is seeking an open seat for the second consecutive election, said she was “very pleased” with the rating. She was rated well qualified two years ago, although the committee included a notation in its report disclosing that Meyer had herself been a member of the committee prior to becoming a candidate.

Meyer said she had no problem with the notation, which she called a “non-issue for me,” and said she doubted that her primary committee membership was a factor in her rating this time. While she does know several committee members professionally, she explained, no one on her subcommittee and very few members of the full committee were on the committee when she was.

Quiet Candidate

Meyer is seeking the seat being vacated by Judge Stephen Petersen when he retires next month. Another candidate for that seat, attorney Douglas Weitzman, declined to discuss his rating but a reliable source reported that Weitzman was tentatively rated not qualified.

The third candidate for that seat, Deputy Attorney General S. Paul Bruguera, could not be reached yesterday.

Tentative ratings for several other candidates were disclosed yesterday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Alan Friedenthal was rated well qualified and has not decided whether to appeal, campaign consultant Evelyn Jerome said. One of his opponents for the seat vacated by retired Judge Charles Rubin, Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Deborah Sanchez, said she had not received her rating, while Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry would only say that his rating was “in process.”

Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Susan Lopez-Giss said she was rated well qualified and would not appeal. Her opponent for the seat of Judge Larry Knupp, who is not seeking re-election, is fellow Deputy City Attorney Richard Kraft, who did not return a phone call.

Deputy District Attorney Hayden Zacky, seeking the seat now held by Judge Marion Johnson, said he had been rated well qualified and would not appeal. One opponent, George Montgomery, said he had not received a rating and Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack could not be reached.

Deputy District Attorney David Stuart and Deputy City Attorney Janis L. Barquist, who are seeking the seat left vacant when Judge Paula Mabrey retired, both said they were rated well qualified and would not appeal.

Among the other candidates for that seat, Beverly Hills attorney Maria Hamar said she was rated qualified and is appealing, while Deputy District Attorney Edward Nison and Acton attorney Larry H. Layton said they had not yet been notified.

San Fernando Valley practitioner Stephen Beecher said he had not gotten word, but expected to be rated not qualified because he had not spent “hours and hours” filling out his questionnaire. Another Valley lawyer, Randolph Hammock, was not available for comment.

Neither candidate for the seat now held by Judge Barbara Burke, who has applied for disability retirement, could be reached, but a reliable source said that Deputy City Attorney Daniel Lowenthal had been tentatively rated qualified. His opponent is Robert Davenport.


Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company