Monday, June 5, 2006
Write-in Candidate Could Complicate Race for Judge Janavs’ Seat
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The outcome of tomorrow’s challenge to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs could turn on a the vote polled by a late write-in candidate.
Arden D. Schaeffer, a member of the State Bar since 1981 who is ineligible to practice since his license was suspended last year for non-payment of family support, said Friday he expects to receive “at least one” vote for Superior Court Office No. 120, and hopes to get quite a few more.
If Schaeffer were to prevent Janavs or opponent Lynn Olson from gaining a majority of the votes, the top two vote-getters would have to compete in a November runoff.
“That’s a possibility,” Schaeffer told the MetNews, although he conceded it would be a “bizarre” outcome. He said he had been contacting lawyers and others he knows to ask for their support.
Schaeffer said he had to go the write-in route because he didn’t decide to run until after it was too late to file. Schaeffer qualified on May 23, the last possible day, a registrar’s spokesperson said.
The candidate wants to be a judge, he said, because too many current bench officers “flagrantly make rulings that they have no authority to make, when they know that people don’t have the financial ability to appeal their decisions.” He cited his own experience in the family law courts, in another county, resulting in the suspension of his right to practice law.
He has no particular gripe with Janavs, whom he has not appeared before, he said. He added that he does not think that Olson, whom he derided as “the bagel lady” because she left active practice over a dozen years ago to help run a bakery, is qualified to replace the incumbent.
Schaeffer’s suspension raises the question of whether he is qualified to run, or to serve, according to Art. VI, Sec. 15 of the state Constitution, which says that “[a] person is ineligible to be a judge of a court of record unless for 10 years immediately preceding selection, the person has been a member of the State Bar or served as a judge of a court of record in this State.”
Schaeffer said he didn’t see a problem. The suspension, he said, is “just a monetary matter” and has nothing to do with his fitness to practice law.
Neither Janavs nor Olson was available for comment, but members of their campaigns discounted any possibility of a runoff.
“Unless he’s spending $5 million [on advertising] over the weekend, he has as much chance of affecting the race as I do,” Hal Dash, president of Cerrell Associates, commented. The Cerrell firm is serving as consultant to Janavs, who reported spending a little over $30,000 through May 20, most of it on what Dash called “a few strategic slates.”
Dash predicted the incumbent would draw a percentage in the “high 60s.”
Fred Huebscher, a consultant who is an unpaid adviser to the Olsen campaign, said the possibility of a runoff was “slim to very slim.” He said he expects the race to be close, with the winning candidate—he predicted it will be Olson—polling between 50 and 55 percent.
Olson, who on entering the race filed a short form indicating she expected to spend less than $1,000, has now spent about $90,000 and is on about 20 slates, Huebscher said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company