Monday, May 8, 2006
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: Superior Court Office 102
Three Lawyers From Varying Fields Vie for Judgeship
The candidates for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 102 are from three different segments of the bar: criminal defense, prosecution, and civil law.
C. Edward Mack is a deputy public defender; Hayden Zacky is a deputy district attorney; and George Montgomery is a civil practitioner.
As of Friday, 41 judicial officers
(39 judges and two commissioners) had endorsed Zacky, who has the backing of
the Los Angeles Times; four judges were listed as
supporters of Mack, who bagged the county Democratic Party’s endorsement; and one judge was behind Montgomery.
C. EDWARD MACK
Deputy Public Defender Has High Hopes but Low Visibility Campaign
Two years ago, Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack ran for a Superior Court judgeship and came in sixth in a field of six candidates. Presently, he’s in a judicial race again, this time with two opponents, and is hoping to win.
But his campaign appears to be predicated on little other than wishing.
Mack, 51, has no campaign consultant and no concrete game plan.
“I do have some money,” he said, but declined to discuss how much is in his campaign coffers.
“I’ve got a list of registered voters in Los Angeles County,” Mack noted, saying he’ll be “pressing the flesh, pounding the pavement.”
“I’ve considered advertising in papers and the like.”
The candidate acknowledged that he is having a hard time getting on slate mailers. Those who put out the mailers, he said, would rather deal with campaign consultants, who are repeat customers, while he’s a “one-time kind of guy.”
Mack does have something going for him in the present campaign in the form of endorsements. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party (which only endorses Democrats) is backing him, as are the Courtroom Clerks Assn., Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Melvin Sandig, Sheri Silver, Joseph De Vanon and Allen Webster, Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael Judge, Democratic Assembly members Jerome Horton, Mark Ridley Thomas and Mervyn Dymally, and former U.S. Rep. James Rogan.
Rogan—the Glendale Republican who led the successful effort in the House of Representatives to impeach Democratic President Bill Clinton—might appear out of place in Mack’s list of supporters. The explanation is that the ex-congressman, now a member of the Irvine Law Firm of Preston Gates & Ellis, was a judge of the Glendale Municipal Court from 1990-94, and during about two years of that time, Mack was the deputy public defender assigned to his courtroom.
“He handled perhaps a couple thousand cases during that period, and tried many jury and court trials before me,” Rogan recalled. “Over the years I saw C develop into a fine and respected trial lawyer.”
“What always left me impressed was that C had a great heart for not only his clients, but for the law and for ensuring a just result. C worked diligently to keep up on the latest cases, maintained a trial notebook, and always was eager to learn.
“I recall C telling me over a dozen years ago that his ultimate goal was to one day serve on the bench. Now, over these many years, C has developed into a respected felony trial lawyer. He has the experience, seasoning and compassion to make an outstanding judge. Were I ever summoned to litigate a case before him, I know from personal experience that I would be appearing before a fair, just and good man whose only ambition would be to serve the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Michael Judge said his deputy has “a lot of experience,” has “maturity,” and is “a very hard worker.”
Mack, who has been a deputy public defender since September, 1990, claims in his hand-out to have “five years legal experience in the civil field,” a claim he also made in an interview. However, he was not admitted to practice until July, 1989, meaning that he was a lawyer in the civil arena for only 14 months before becoming a criminal defense attorney.
What Mack has done to reach the figure of “five years” is to lump his service as a research attorney with his work as a deputy clerk.
He did the same thing two years ago. In a statement prepared for the League of Women Voters and posted on its website, Mack said:
“My experience covers 5 years in Civil related matters, 13 years in Criminal matters….”
This, year, his statement on the website says:
“Edward C. Mack [sic] has the following qualifications:
“•Five years of civil experience.
“•Fifteen years of criminal experience as a Los Angeles County Public Defender.”
Prior to becoming a deputy clerk, Mack worked in the film industry—serving as president of the Afro American Film Institute—and as a chemist. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Florida State University and his law degree, in 1987, at the University of West Los Angeles.
As a lawyer, he has served as president of the Black Public Defenders Association and as a member of the Executive Board of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
Mack said his platform is to create a Mental Health Court that would divert criminal defendants to treatment facilities and to get parents more involved in helping their children in school so as to deter their membership in gangs.
GEORGE C. MONTGOMERY
Septuagenarian Litigator Looks to Travel New Road As He Bids for Judgeship
At an age when most lawyers and judges are retired, or planning for retirement, George Montgomery wants to take on a new career, that of Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
Montgomery, 73, has been practicing and teaching law since 1960, giving him “much more experience,” he said in a recent interview, than his two opponents, who were admitted in 1992 and 1989.
“I have been doing this [civil litigation] a very long time,” he said. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a selective and prestigious group of civil trial lawyers, although his criminal law experience is limited to having tried three cases early in his career before deciding he did not like representing defendants, he commented.
Montgomery graduated from what was then Loyola University in 1954 and from its law school in 1959, joining a law firm where he eventually became head of the corporate and estate planning practice and a senior litigator.
In 1967, he co-founded Montgomery, Bottum, Regal & McNally, where he was head litigator and chair of the management committee, trying over 100 cases. When the firm, which had grown to more than 50 lawyers, broke up in 1984, he joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, working out of offices in Los Angeles, Texas, and London, where he appeared before the High Court.
He left Gibson Dunn in 1993 for the New York firm of Chadbourne & Parke, commuting weekly between Los Angeles and New York, he explains, while also working an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Law School. He largely left the practice in 1994, doing a limited amount of pro bono work prior to 1999, when he opened his current office in Santa Monica.
‘Test My Brain’
In the interim, he explains, he decided to “test my brain” and try to put behind him the emotional upset resulting from the loss of his large Encino home in the Northridge earthquake by returning to London to study for the solicitor’s exam.
He said he was one of fewer than a dozen Americans in his three-month course and the only one of those to pass all three parts of the written exam. He remains a licensed solicitor in England and Wales, as well as a member of the Texas and District of Columbia bars, but acknowledges that he spends little time in court these days.
Law and Motion
Eighty percent of his professional time in the past 18 months, he estimates, was spent doing motion and discovery work in a class action in which he worked with veteran trial attorney Leonard Pomerantz. Since that case settled, he has been largely engaged in “teach[ing] young lawyers how to try lawsuits,” he said, which is the basis of his listing himself on the ballot as “Trial Lawyer/Teacher.”
He has worked with a half dozen of these lawyers in the past year, he says. He declines to say how many of them have paid him, but when he does charge, his rates vary between $100 and $400 per hour, he said.
His campaign Web site boasts that “[d]uring his career, George has been a friend of and rendered special assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the CIA.”
When interviewed, Montgomery explained that he had provided information to the FBI on various occasions, including one case in which he was paid for assisting in a matter involving a shady European financier and a Swiss bank. He would not discuss any work he had done for the CIA, and said that on reflection, he probably should not have mentioned the FBI or the CIA on his Web site, but the statement was still there as of Friday afternoon.
He declined to discuss his campaign spending, other than to say he will not be holding fundraising events. He acknowledged he will be unable to keep up with Deputy District Attorney Hayden Zacky, who says he plans on spending between $70,000 and $100,000 in the primary in hopes of avoiding a runoff.
Montgomery is also well behind Zacky in endorsements. While Zacky has over 40 judicial officers and several organizations backing him, Montgomery claims no organizational endorsements and only one judicial one, that of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez, a friend and former classmate.
Chavez is effusive in his praise of Montgomery.
The candidate is “a very good lawyer with a variety of skills—a very good trial lawyer, and a very good book lawyer,” the former Superior Court presiding judge said. “I think he’d be a very good trial judge.”
Chavez, who was appointed to the court at age 59 after a successful career as a litigator and is now 75, said that Montgomery’s age and lack of recent courtroom practice will not hurt him as a judge. Chavez cited as examples Great Britain’s Winston Churchill and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer, who headed their country’s governments into their 80s.
Montgomery, Chavez said, is “an able, strong, intelligent person.” The judge noted that he recently hired Montgomery to represent him in a transactional matter, “and I can go to a lot of people.”
Montgomery acknowledged that he has a daunting task, since private-sector attorneys traditionally run poorly in Los Angeles Superior Court contests, particularly if they lack the money to run a countywide campaign.
But Montgomery insisted that his campaign is no mere civic exercise. “I’m in this to win,” he said.
HAYDEN A. ZACKEY
‘Criminal Prosecutor’ Puts Forth Determined Effort To Gain Election
Hayden A. Zacky wants very much to be a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
A lawyer since 1992 and a prosecutor since 1994, Zacky has made it clear that if he loses the June 6 primary for the seat being vacated by Judge Marion Johnson, it will not be for lack of effort.
From the time it became clear that the incumbent was not running, Zacky set the seat as a target. He made his intentions known to fellow prosecutors who were considering running, lined up a $300,000 line of credit to finance the campaign, hired a campaign consultant, and camped out all day at the county elections office on the last day of filing so he could attempt to discourage potential opponents.
No Candidate Statement
The strategy appears to have been largely successful, so much so that Zacky made a last minute decision not to pay $45,000 to place a candidate statement in the official ballot pamphlet, although he had the statement and his check in his pocket at the filing deadline.
Discussing his election prospects during a recent interview, he appeared confident, but not cocky. He quipped that “as a Zacky, I never count my chickens before they hatch,” an allusion to the well-known poultry processing company owned by members of his family.
Opponents George Montgomery and C. Edward Mack, he said “are very nice people.” But he noted that Montgomery’s trial experience is not recent and is limited to civil cases, and touted his success in prosecuting extremely violent felons, especially in the Antelope Valley, where he currently works.
Was ‘Valley Boy’
Zacky grew up in the San Fernando Valley, attending Grant High School, UC San Diego, and Southwestern University School of Law. After an externship with Senior Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Alarcon, he graduated in 1992 and joined a civil law firm in Calabasas.
He enjoyed the work, but when the opportunity to become a prosecutor came along two years later, he jumped at the chance, he said.
“I always wanted to be a prosecutor,” he explained, but the District Attorney’s Office was in a hiring freeze when he graduated from law school and he did not want to leave the area. He applied to the office at the first opportunity, he said, and when he was finally offered an interview slot, he took it even though he had to postpone his honeymoon in order to do so.
“ ‘You’d better get that job,’ ” he recalls his wife, an optometrist, saying, and he did. The couple went on their honeymoon after the interview and will be married 12 years this June. They have four children.
‘Very Moderate Republican’
He has been thinking about becoming a judge for a long time, he said, and politically involved relatives encouraged him to apply during the administration of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. He was not sure if the politics or the timing was right—he is a “very moderate Republican” and barely had the 10 years’ State Bar membership needed to qualify, he explained—and Davis’ recall rendered the issue moot.
He subsequently completed an application for consideration by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but never sent it in, in part because he knew that a number of his more-experienced colleagues were applying, he said.
But he exuded confidence that he has picked the right time to run. He is using the potent ballot designation “Criminal Gang Prosecutor,” has retained campaign consultant Evelyn Jerome of the Forman/Jerome firm, which also represents four judicial candidates in other races, and has the endorsements of the Los Angeles Times—which commented that “[h]is demeanor and presence make him ready to serve as a judge.” The also has endorsements from several law enforcement and victims’ rights groups, District Attorney Steve Cooley, Sheriff Lee Baca—who has also endorsed Montgomery—and more than 40 judicial officers, as well as the Mexican American Bar Association and Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich.
Perhaps the only major organizational endorsement he lacks is that of the Democratic Party, which is supporting Mack, the only Democrat in the race.
Zacky said he expects to spend $70,000 to $100,000, primarily on slate mail, in hopes of winning on June 6 and avoiding a November runoff.
His confidence extends past the election. He said he foresees himself as the type of judge whose courtroom lawyers and litigants will leave thinking that they were treated courteously and fairly.
While he can be a “pit bull” in the courtroom, he said, he has been successful in avoiding personal embroilment with defense counsel. “It’s my job to make sure that these violent criminals are held responsible for what they’ve done,” he said, but added that he believes that he is respected as fair and professional.
One lawyer who has faith in him is Dale R. Atherton, a Pasadena defense attorney who resolved one case in which Zacky was the prosecutor and has a couple of other cases pending with him.
“He’d be an awesome judge,” Atherton said, “I support him 100 percent.”
The attorney, who related he plans to hold a campaign event for Zacky, said the candidate was “very fair” and that “that’s all you can ask of a judge.”
Morton Borenstein, a 35-year criminal defense lawyer who has two capital cases pending against Zacky, said he plans to vote for his adversary, whom he described as “a forceful prosecutor,” but one who is “compassionate” and does not act “petulant” when a judge rules against him on an issue.
Other defense lawyers whom he has spoken with, Borenstein added, consider Zacky a “straight arrow” when it comes to professional ethics.
Adrian Baca, a Los Angeles attorney who has a murder case pending against Zacky, called him “one of the most competent D.A.s I’ve come across.” Zacky has the temperament to be a good judge, he said, because he “recognizes that there is a lot at stake, but he doesn’t make it personal.”
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company
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