Monday, June 2, 2008
Summary of Judicial Endorsements
Our endorsements of candidates in the 11 judicial races on tomorrow’s ballot were made between Feb. 28 and May 5 following intensive consideration, including interviews with most of the candidates and inquiries about all of them. As to some of the candidates clearly lacking credentials for the office who have run before, the inquiries took place in previous years; none of those candidates offered us information this year as to how they had upgraded their fitness.
The endorsements were made prior to release of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.’s ratings. As it happens, we see eye to eye with the County Bar this year. No candidate in any given race whom we did not endorse received a higher rating than the one we did choose. Seven of those we endorsed attained a higher rating than any other contender for the seat.
With respect to Office No. 69, LACBA offered no rating “due to the pendency of matters outside the control of the committee.” (As exclusively reported by the MetNews on March 27, the District Attorney’s Office was investigating whether there had been a breach by a representative of Superior Court Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman of Elections Code Sec. 18205 which renders it a felony to offer something of value to a candidate to back out of a race.)
Our endorsements largely parallel those of the Los Angeles Times which, starting two years ago, has scrutinized judicial candidates far more closely than in the past. In the three instances in which the Times’ April 23 endorsements differ from ours—it opted for Superior Court Referee Cynthia Loo for Office No. 82, Deputy District Attorney Pat Connolly for Office No. 84, and Superior Court Commissioner Patricia Nieto for Office No. 95—we believe only the first of those endorsements was clearly a misjudgment.
The Daily News of Los Angeles’ May 22 endorsements agree with ours in 10½ of the 11 races. As to Office No. 84, for which we endorsed Superior Court Referee Lori-Ann C. Jones, its editorial says: “We feel a runoff between Connolly, who has passionate support among many attorneys and judges, and Jones, who presides over a criminal courtroom in Inglewood, would give voters more time to sort this out.”
Ralph W. Dau
Office No. 4
We recommend retention of the incumbent, arrogant cuss though he is. His challenger, private attorney Sydnee Singer, would run a more pleasant courtroom than Dau, but lacks the mental acuity to do the job.
Serena Raquel Murillo
Office No. 69
In light of Deputy District Attorney Serena R. Murillo’s intelligence, maturity, and temperament, we endorse her unhesitatingly. Her opponent, Silberman, has three-and-a-half years of judicial experience and a quick mind, but we believe that attorneys and colleagues would find Murillo easier to deal with and steadier.
Marc Alain Chomel
Office No. 72
Deputy District Attorneys Marc Chomel and Hilleri Merritt are both able, but in choosing up sides, we go with Chomel. Acknowledging that he has heard favorable reports on Merritt, Chomel says of his adversary: “She is essentially where I was about 10 years ago.” He’s been a prosecutor for 22 years, and she for 14 years. But it’s not simply a matter of arithmetic. Chomel is impressive in terms of his accomplishment and his demeanor. However, he has been running a low-budget, if not anemic, campaign and a run-off between Merritt and private practitioner Steven A. Simons is likely. Should that occur, Merritt would be our choice. She’s affable, non-confrontational, and plain-talking.
Office No. 82
There’s no room for doubt as to which of the contenders in this race deserves victory. Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson is skilled, bright, dependable, hard-working, and ethical. By contrast, a colleague in the office, Mark Lee, puts forth only token efforts as a prosecutor. Meaningfully, of the 11 deputy district attorneys seeking election, only one—Lee—lacks the endorsement of District Attorney Steve Cooley. Also running, as mentioned, is Loo. Her performance as a judicial officer has been so lacking that the judges of the court have thrice spurned her bid for a commissionership.
Lori-Ann C. Jones
Office No. 84
All four candidates in this race have been branded “not qualified” by LACBA. Although we favor Jones, her rocky start as a judicial officer—causing the Office of Public Defender to refuse to stipulate to her for a spell—is of concern. Connolly has strong boosters and intense detractors; he is admittedly “pugnacious” which would not bode well for attorneys appearing before him whose positions he rejected. Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry is not viewed as productive, and Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez lacks knowledge of the law outside his field.
Michael J. O’Gara
Office No. 94
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Michael J. O’Gara has what it takes to be a judge. His opponents don’t. Eduard A. Abele, also a deputy district attorney, does not possess mature judgment. Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack is weak on logic and low on campaign ethics.
Lance E. Winters
Office No. 95
There are two top-notch candidates in this contest: Deputy Attorney General Lance E. Winters and Nieto. Our endorsement goes to Winters because we view his potential as so high as to transcend service on the Superior Court.
Office No. 119
Deputy District Attorney Jared Moses is intelligent, easygoing, likeable, and destined to be honored by various bar associations over the years ahead as “Judge of the Year.” There is no question as to the fitness of this candidate, or the unfitness of his adversaries, realtor/attorney Douglas Weitzman and unemployed lawyer Robert Davenport, the latter having only handled cases as a pro per and being adjudged a vexatious litigant.
Office No. 123
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Kathleen Blanchard is dedicated, knowledgeable, and possesses the capacity to work harmoniously with others. She, like Moses, is up against two lawyers patently lacking fitness for judicial office: Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Allan Nadir and attorney Richard A. Nixon.
James N. Bianco
Office No. 125
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner James N. Bianco, like Jones, has gotten off to a bad start as a judicial officer. But there can be no doubt that he should be elected. His opponent is a white supremacist, Bill Johnson, who has written a book proposing a federal constitutional amendment that would repeal the 14th and 15th amendments and would insert this language:
“No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood, provided that Hispanic whites, defined as anyone with an Hispanic ancestor, may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are in appearance indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is in the British Isles or Northwestern Europe. Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”
Johnson, by the way, is a candidate in hiding, making no campaign appearances, answering no reporters’ queries.
Michael V. Jesic
Office No. 154
This is a tough one to call as between Deputy District Attorney Michael V. Jesic and Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Rocky Crabb. While we recognize that Crabb has the advantage of three years of judicial experience, we endorse Jesic because he stands out as a lawyer who ought to be a judge. He has a reputation for being an effective prosecutor but one who is driven by justice not a blind quest for victory; he is known for his forthrightness, integrity, and sense of fairness. Also running—but not hard—is a deputy attorney general who is known as “S. Paul Bruguera” but is using the moniker “Paul ‘Pablo’ Bruguera” with the admitted purpose of snaring Hispanic votes.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company