Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Nine Judicial Candidates Rated ‘Not Qualified’ by LACBA
By Kenneth Ofgang, Staff Writer
Nine candidates for the Los Angeles Superior Court have been rated “not qualified” for the office, the Los Angeles County Bar Association Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee reported yesterday.
The committee, which rates candidates prior to each biennial election, said in its final report that Stephen Beecher, David Crawford III, Robert Davenport, Stephen M. Feldman, Larry H. Layton, George C. Montgomery, Richard A. Nixon, Lynn Diane Olson and Douglas W. Weitzman “possess less than the minimum qualities and attributes considered necessary to perform the judicial function adequately and satisfactorily.”
Of the other 19 candidates seeking election, two were rated “exceptionally well qualified,” nine were rated “well qualified,” and eight were rated “qualified.” The number of not-qualified ratings has been increasing significantly in recent years, going from 10 percent of all candidates in 2002 to 22 percent in 2004 to 32 percent this year.
The exceptionally well qualified ratings for Judge Dzintra Janavs and Deputy District Attorney Judith L. Meyer were previously reported in the MetNews, as were well qualified ratings for Superior Court Commissioner Alan Friedenthal, Assistant City Attorney Susan L. Lopez-Giss, Deputy City Attorneys Janis L. Barquist and Richard Loomis, and Deputy District Attorneys Hayden Zacky and David Stuart.
Additional well qualified ratings were reported by the committee yesterday for litigation attorney Randolph Hammock and Deputy City Attorneys Deborah Sanchez and Richard Kraft.
Beecher, who practices in a two-lawyer firm in the San Fernando Valley, did not return a MetNews phone call yesterday, but said last week that he expected to receive the panel’s lowest possible rating because he had not spent “hours and hours” filling out its extensive questionnaire. Crawford, who does insurance defense work and who ran two years ago and was rated qualified, did not return a call either.
Davenport said the bar panel had “done what they’ve done” and that he did not believe it had the right to call him not qualified when he meets the legal qualifications for the post, meaning that he has been a member of the State Bar for at least 10 years. In fact, he has been a member for 17 years, although he has been on inactive status for nearly all of that time and has never represented anyone other than himself in a California court.
“I told [the bar committee] that there was a statutory rating of qualified and they are not entitled to reinvent their own definition,” he said. “Other than that, I don’t really have any comment.”
Feldman did not return a MetNews phone call.
Layton said he would fax a statement in response to the rating, but had not done so as of last evening. The perennial candidate was rated “qualified” in 2000, 2002, and 2004, after being rated “not qualified” in three bids for the Antelope Municipal Court, which was abolished as a result of unification in 2000.
Montgomery and Nixon did not return phone calls.
Fred Huebscher, a political consultant who is a friend of Olson’s and is advising the campaign, said he was not surprised by the rating, since Olson did not participate in the evaluation process. He said he doubted the rating would make much difference in the outcome of the race.
In past years, he explained, the ratings were significant primarily because they often impacted the Los Angeles Times endorsements. This year, however, the Times endorsements came out much earlier.
Weitzman declined to discuss his rating, but faxed a statement contesting the committee’s conclusion, conditioning use of it on publishing it in its entirety.
He also faxed a cover letter, in which he wrote:
Besides Layton and Crawford, one other repeat candidate saw his rating go down. Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry, who was rated well qualified two years ago, was declared to be only qualified this year.
Henry said yesterday afternoon that he had not yet received a letter from LACBA containing his evaluation, although the panel’s full report went on the association’s Web site, lacba.org., yesterday morning.
The candidate, who unsuccessfully appealed his tentative rating, said members of the committee had offered no explanation as to how he could be less qualified to serve on the court than he was two years ago, except to point out that the committee membership changes, in part, from one election cycle to the next.
“I’ve got my truth, and I’ll continue to say it, I was rated well qualified in 2004,” Henry commented.
The full ratings are as follows:
•Office No. 8—Deborah L. Sanchez, Well Qualified; Bob Henry, Qualified; Alan H. Friedenthal, Well Qualified.
•Office No. 18—Daviann L. Mitchell, Qualified; Richard H. Loomis, Well Qualified; David Crawford III, Not Qualified; Richard A. Nixon, Not Qualified; John C. Gutierrez, Qualified; Stephen M. Feldman, Not Qualified.
•Office No. 28—Judith L. Meyer ,Exceptionally Well Qualified; S. Paul Bruguera, Qualified; Douglas W. Weitzman, Not Qualified.
•Office No. 95—Richard Kraft, Well Qualified; Susan L. Lopez-Giss, Well Qualified.
Office No. 102—C. Edward Mack, Qualified; Hayden Zacky, Well Qualified; George C. Montgomery, Not Qualified.
•Office No. 120—Dzintra I. Janavs, Exceptionally Well Qualified; Lynn Diane Olson, Not Qualified.
•Office No. 122—Daniel J. Lowenthal, Qualified, Robert Davenport, Not Qualified.
•Office No. 144—Edward J. Nison, Qualified; Stephen H. Beecher, Not Qualified; Janis Levart Barquist, Well Qualified; David W. Stuart, Well Qualified; Larry H. Layton, Not Qualified; Maria Rivas Hamar, Qualified; Randolph Martin Hammock, Well Qualified.
In a footnote, the committee noted that one of the candidates, Meyer, had been a member of the committee during a previous election cycle.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company