Monday, June 12, 2006
Governor Says He Will Re-Appoint Janavs to Superior Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will appoint defeated Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Judge Janavs has a long and distinguished record as a judge and deserves to continue serving the people of Los Angeles,” the governor said in a statement. “I can relate to the problem of having a name that is hard to pronounce. This unfortunate result should not rob California of a fine jurist, and I intend to reappoint her to the L.A. Superior Court as soon as she completes the paperwork.”
State law requires that potential appointees to the bench submit to evaluation by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, a process that can take up to 90 days. The statute does not apply, however, during the final 90 days of the governor’s term.
There are currently seven vacancies on the court, but three are in seats to which successors are being elected this year.
The governor’s statement comes just three days after Janavs became the first Los Angeles Superior Court judge to be defeated for re-election in 18 years. She received 46 percent of the vote to 54 percent for Lynn D. Olson, a non-practicing attorney who runs a Manhattan Beach eatery with her husband, Hermosa Beach City Councilman Michael Keegan.
Numerous judges and lawyers had expressed the view that the governor should allow the 20-year jurist to remain on the bench past Jan. 7, when her current term—as well as Schwarzenegger’s—will expire. There is precedent for the governor’s action, as then-Gov. Jerry Brown, now the Democratic candidate for attorney general, appointed defeated judges to new judicial positions on at least three occasions, including one in Los Angeles County.
Support for the governor’s action came from many sources, including a Democratic Party official.
“I think that’s very good news,” Jeffrey Daar told the MetNews. Daar, a partner in the downtown firm of Daar & Newman, is the chairman of a committee that recommends judicial candidates for endorsement by the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee.
Daar explained that as an official party entity, the Central Committee could not endorse the incumbent, a Republican. His Judicial Interview Committee met with Olson, as the only Democrat in the race, and voted 8-1 to recommend that there be no endorsement, he said.
The Central Committee, however, in a development with which he was “not happy,” gave Olson the 60 percent approval necessary to be endorsed, Daar said. That action came after he left the meeting early due to a death in his family, he said.
Daar said he was told, and another person who was present at the meeting confirmed to the MetNews, that the committee acted after members were served bagel sandwiches from Olson’s establishment and after a strong speech in her support by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood. Koretz is a favorite of party activists and a longtime friend of political consultant Fred Huebscher, an adviser to Olson’s campaign.
Daar said he wrote to Janavs after the election and encouraged her to seek appointment.
“I think Judge Janavs is a very good judge,” he said. “I think this is a person from whose appointment we can all benefit.”
Olson said she had no problem with the governor’s announcement.
“She is a competent judge and I wish her well,” Olson said of her erstwhile opponent. “I never had anything against her, but it was my right to run.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Stephen Czuleger said late Friday he “could not be happier.” He reported that the spirit within the court subsequent to Janavs’ defeat had been “very somber.”
Czuleger said that “there was a lot of outrage” over the election outcome.
He hailed the “very wise decision made by the governor,” and noted that it was reached after two conversations between Presiding Judge William MacLaughlin and Schwarzenegger’s judicial appointments advisor, John Davies.
Czuleger said he learned of the appointment from Janavs after he returned a call to her. The message she left was: “It’s good news for a change.”
He recounted that Davies had telephoned her from the train station to let her know of the governor’s decision.
Several other Superior Court judges responded favorably after being notified by MacLaughlin by e-mail of the governor’s announcement.
Some of their comments:
“Thank goodness for the great judgment of the governor, his staff, and all of the members of bench and bar who made this happen. What a difference a day and lots of wonderful people makes.” —Judge Charles Horan.
“This is fabulous news! I am thrilled.” —Judge Andria Richey.
“What Governor Schwarzenegger has done is not only the right thing, but an act of political courage. He and John Davies deserve a medal along with our enduring thanks for keeping Dzintra Janavs on the bench. She is a judicial treasure.” —Judge Anthony J. Mohr.
“The governor’s announcement of his intent to reappoint Judge Janavs has brightened the day of all of her colleagues on the bench. It goes to show you that some things in life do indeed turn out for the best, even if there are some dark moments along the way.” —Judge Michael Solner.
“The governor has made a wise, pure and honorable decision. The Superior Court and the people it serves are the winners. There is no better jurist among us than Dzintra Janavs.” —Judge John Kronstadt.
“Governor Schwarzenegger’s excellent record of judicial appointments is only enhanced by the reappointment of Judge Janavs.” —Judge Michael Vicencia.
Meanwhile, the Daily Breeze, a beach cities daily, reported Thursday that Olson knew at the time of filing that she was going to spend liberally on her campaign, contrary to what she told the MetNews.
“[S]he acknowledged Wednesday that was a political strategy designed to encourage Janavs not to take fund-raising seriously,” the Daily Breeze reported.
On March 10, the day she filed her nominating papers, Olson also filed a Fair Political Practice Commission form declaring she would not raise more than $1,000.
As it turned out, Olson spent about $120,000 in the campaign, primarily on slate mailers, although Huebscher explained that about one-third of that was in the form of “winner’s bonuses” that the campaign agreed to pay slate vendors in the event of her election. Such bonuses are common in the slate mail business.
Former California Gov. George Deukmejian, who 20 years ago appointed Janavs to the court, commented Friday that the judge was “blind sighted by this Ms. Olson” when she said she would not engage in heavy spending.
Also, Deukmejian said, “Judge Janavs probably thought that because she was rated extremely well qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. “it was highly unlikely that a person who had been rated not qualified would be able to mount any campaign against her.”
The former governor, speaking in an interview prior to Schwarzenegger’s announcement, said it would be an “excellent idea” for the governor to reappoint Janavs, remarking: “She has done so splendidly as a judge.”
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company