Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Serena R. Murillo
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 69
Deputy Los Angeles District Attorney Serena R. Murillo is in a contest with Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman.
We favor her, notwithstanding Silberman’s judicial experience (three-and-a-half years as a subordinate judicial officer) and his quick mind. We believe that attorneys and colleagues would find Murillo easier to deal with and steadier.
Murillo is a prosecutor whose attributes—including her honesty and diligence—have gained her the respect of her counterparts in the Public Defender’s Office...and, significantly, the endorsement of Public Defender Michael Judge. It is rare that a candidate boasts the backing of both Judge and District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Murillo has been a prosecutor for 11 years. What she has viewed, from the counsel table, and has been a participant in, has included the conducting of jury trials in serious felony cases and sentencing.
Prior to that, she was in civil practice, working for 11 months at McNicholas & McNicholas, where she was viewed as a quick study, bright, and even then, as a novice lawyer (admitted in November, 1996), learned in the law. She left that firm because the hiring freeze at the District Attorney’s Office—where she truly wanted to be—had melted.
In light of Murillo’s intelligence, maturity, and temperament, we endorse her unhesitatingly.
That having been said, we note a concern about Silberman which fortifies, but is independent of the core basis for, our conclusion.
The commissioner wanted to get out of jury service in a 2006 case destined to last four months. It was reasonable that a judicial officer whose services were needed by the court would not be diverted from his public duties for that long a period of time. However, that wholly legitimate concern did not initially impress Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon, who was presiding over the case in which Silberman wound up as a potential alternate juror.
What is pertinent is this passage:
COURT: counsel are present. Commissioner Silberman is here. You wanted to say something.
SILBERMAN (Prospective Juror #23): yes, I was hoping—it’s awkward for me making medical disclosures. I have a colleague working in the same building. I was hoping I didn’t have to do this. But I am taking a medication called Astelin (phonetically), and I take it every day, and it can and sometimes does cause drowsiness. I thought you needed to know that.
COURT: As far as serving on the jury, do you think it would affect that?
SILBERMAN: I think it could as described. Okay. Thank you.
Silberman told a MetNews reporter that he was taking a medication for migraine headaches and that drowsiness was a side effect. As reported in an April 15 profile:
“Silberman does not recall the name of the medication or how long he took it, but says he no longer suffers from migraines.”
In fact, Astelin is an allergy medication. It would hardly be prescribed for migraine headaches since one of the “[m]ost common side effects,” according to the Astelin website, is “headache.”
Another leading side effect listed is “drowsiness.”
If Silberman was, in fact, taking Astelin, and it precluded him from functioning as a juror in light of its propensity for inducing drowsiness, that medication would necessarily have been interfering with his capacity to serve as a judicial officer.
If the medication did have so pronounced an effect on Silberman, it is difficult to accept that he does not recall how long he was taking it.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company