Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, February 7, 2008


Page 1


Redondo Beach Attorney Singer to Challenge Judge Ralph W. Dau


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Redondo Beach attorney Sydnee R. Singer yesterday filed her declaration of intent to run for the seat of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph W. Dau.

“My feeling is that I can offer something more to the citizens” than the incumbent, Singer told the MetNews.

If Singer follows through on her candidacy by filing nomination documents, she will be the only candidate challenging an incumbent judge in the county during the June 3 primary. Yesterday was the deadline for judges and their challengers to file declarations, but there will be a Monday deadline for candidates to file for the 10 open seats on the ballot.

Singer, who had earlier taken out papers to run for several different seats, said she had been preparing to run for judge since opening her own practice last summer. She said she targeted Dau in part because of a bad experience she had in front of him several years ago.

“I believe in respecting counsel and in being candid,” she said, contrasting herself with Dau. If elected, she said, her judicial style “will be very different.”

She also noted that Dau will turn 70 later this month.

Private Practice

Before opening her own practice, Singer, 52, spent nine years at Bragg & Kuluva, a downtown Los Angeles firm which does defense work for insureds of the Chubb Group. She had previously worked at Murchison & Cumming, and before that at Howarth & Smith.

She is a graduate of Indiana University School of Law, having previously majored in music at the University of Miami, where she also earned masters’ degrees in music and in business administration.

Singer said she did not know how much money she would spend on a campaign, but said she would be talking to consultants.

Dau declined to talk to a reporter, but forwarded a statement:

“I was appointed as Superior Court Judge by Governor Pete Wilson.  I have twelve years of what I consider to be distinguished service.  I am eminently qualified for the office I hold.  I have served in civil trial, civil long cause and felony trial departments as well as in a pro tem assignment to a California Court of Appeal.  Prior to my appointment, I spent approximately 30 years in trial and appellate practice with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, where I specialized in complex litigation.”

A native of Milwaukee, Dau grew up in Dallas where his family moved when he was four years old. He decided to go to law school after taking an undergraduate class in constitutional law at the University of Texas, he once told a reporter.

Naval Officer

After graduating in 1959 and spending four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy on a destroyer—including a stint in the Tonkin Gulf as part of the first task force in the Vietnam War—he returned to his alma mater and earned a law degree with honors in 1966.

Dau and his wife Marilyn—whom he met while stationed in the Navy in California—moved to Los Angeles in 1966, where he took a job as an associate with the firm of O’Melveny & Myers. He was elevated to partner at the firm in 1974, and remained there until his 1995 appointment to the bench.

During his time at the firm, he handled litigation involving airport noise, class actions, insurance coverage issues and environmental law. From 1991 on he headed the firm’s environmental law practice group.

Dau’s name was submitted in 2000 for a vacant position on this district’s Court of Appeal, but then-Gov. Gray Davis reportedly expressed privately a disinclination to appoint him. News reports at the time cited negative reviews Dau had drawn as a result of his temperament.

In other election-related news:

•Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo, 37, took out papers to run for the seat being vacated by Judge Tracy A. Grant. Murillo, a Loyola Law School graduate who has been a prosecutor for 10 years and is currently assigned to the Major Frauds unit, said she “always wanted to be a judge.”

She made the decision to run, she explained, after her husband, Deputy District Attorney Christian R. Gullon, changed his mind and decided not to be a candidate this year. Gullon had taken out papers to run for the seat from which Judge Bradford L. Andrews retired, but that election was cancelled when the governor appointed a successor to Andrews.

Murillo is a native of Pomona and graduated from Chino High School, where she played basketball for her father, who was and still is the coach there. She later played Div. III basketball at UC San Diego.

She worked for a pair of civil litigation firms before joining the District Attorney’s Office, and served on the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation from 2004 until last year.

•Judge Joseph Di Loreto’s consultant filed his declaration of intent, making Di Loreto the last of 142 incumbent judges to qualify.

•Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack, who has run twice before, took out papers to run for three open seats and said he would probably decide just before Monday’s deadline which one to run for. The three are the seats now held by Judge Wendell Mortimer Jr., Michael Duggan, and Dzintra Janavs.

The only candidates seeking those seats now are deputy district attorneys: Thomas Rubinson for the Mortimer seat, Eduard Abele and Michael O’Gara for the Duggan seat, and Jared Moses for the Janavs seat.

•Debra L. Gonzales, a longtime member of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said she was considering running for an open seat.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company