Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Judicial Candidate Falsely Represents Herself as a Sitting Judge, Lies About Award
Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Cynthia Loo wants to be a judge, but isn’t. Audaciously and mendaciously, this candidate for Office No. 82 on the Nov. 4 ballot is representing herself as being a “Juvenile Court judge.”
That lie appears on a slate mailer, the “COPS VOTER GUIDE,” as follows:
Anyone seeing that would be bound to infer that, as a “judge,” Loo is the incumbent.
The asterisk by her name signifies, according to the small print on the mailer, that “[a]ppearance is paid for and authorized” by the candidate.
Loo has blatantly violated Canon 5B of the Code of Judicial Ethics which provides, in relevant part:
“A candidate for election…to judicial office shall not…(2) knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the…present position…[of] the candidate….”
Loo has misrepresented her current position, and it cannot be doubted that she has done so “knowingly.” She has to be aware that she is not a judge. She’s a subordinate judicial officer.
Reference to her having been “[v]oted ‘Judge of the Year’ in 2004” reinforces the notion that she is a sitting judge, ergo the incumbent.
And, of course, mention of her being voted “Judge of the Year,” without qualification, creates the image of her having been singled out that year as the outstanding judge of the entire Los Angeles Superior Court. In fact, she received an award from the Los Angeles County Juvenile Courts Bar Association.
Throughout her campaign, Loo has made reference to her having been decorated by that group as “judge of the year.” Her candidate statement, published in the sample ballot, says:
“Cynthia Loo received the 2004 ‘Juvenile Court Judge of the Year’ by the Los Angeles County Juvenile Courts Bar Association….”
Among the bulleted items on her website under “Experience” is “L.A. County Juvenile Courts Bar Association ‘Judge of the Year,’ 2004.”
On the League of Women Voters’ “Smart Voter” website she lists: “ ‘2004 JUVENILE COURT JUDGE OF THE YEAR’ - Juvenile Courts Bar Association.”
She told this newspaper in an interview: “I received the Juvenile Court Judge of the Year, 2004” [award].
Was the Juvenile Courts Bar Assn.—an organization of attorneys, who certainly ought to know that a referee is not a judge—actually so befuddled as to honor Loo as “judge” of the year?
No. Its executive director, Eva Chick, advises:
“Cynthia Loo received ‘Outstanding Judicial Officer-Delinquency, 2004’ award from JCBA.”
The group honors one “judicial officer” each year who handles delinquency cases and another “judicial officer” who handles dependency cases.
A “judicial officer” Loo is. A “judge” she isn’t…and she should not be allowed to become one.
A further instance of Loo’s attempt to masquerade as a judge is a statement she makes on the Smart Voter website. It’s on a video clip. She defines “referee” as: “a type of a judge.”
A referee is a type of “bench officer” or “judicial officer” or “jurist.” A referee is not a “type” or “species” of a judge. Rather, a referee is an employee of the judges.
Powers of Juvenile Court referees are broad—even where they are not serving as “temporary judges” upon stipulation of the parties—but their powers are not coextensive with those of judges. Moreover, they simply aren’t judges. They are court hirees, not constitutional office-holders.
There have been other instances of dishonest campaigning by Loo—though nothing so outrageous as her pretending to be a judge.
•The candidate statement, as Loo submitted it to the Registrar-Recorder’s Office for publication, said:
“Known for being tough and fair, Loo has presided in both family law and juvenile courts, and has heard nearly one thousand criminal trials.”
On Sept. 3, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge declared that juvenile delinquency proceedings are not “trials” and required that the word be changed to “adjudications.”
Although that judge was unquestionably right, Loo still proclaims on her campaign website that she has presided over “juvenile criminal trials.” She was not enjoined from so representing on her website, but should surely appreciate by now (if she did not earlier) that it’s untruthful.
The word “trial” is apt to conjure up images among voters of what’s depicted on “Perry Mason” and “Matlock”: proceedings with a large spectator’s section and a jury—like the O.J. Simpson trial. Reference to someone presiding over a “hearing” has far less impact. Yet, the truth is that there are no delinquency “trials.”
•On the Smart Voter website, Loo says of herself:
“Appointed in 2000 by the Superior Court to perform duties of a Judge.”
No, she was not appointed “by the Superior Court.” She seeks to create the misimpression that she was elected by a vote of the membership of that body, which would reflect broad support of her within the local judiciary. She was hired in 2000 by one person: the supervising judge of the Family Law Department, Judge Terry Friedman.
Loo has been out-and-out lying in a bid to create the illusion that she’s a judge and that her opponent is challenging an incumbent. This candidate is a trickster, unworthy of public trust.
To state the obvious, her uncontroversial opponent, Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson, should be elected.
Beyond that, Loo’s deception should not go unpenalized. As a judicial officer, she is bound by the Canons of Judicial Ethics and has defied at least one stricture, Canon 5B.
As a general proposition, violations of canons by referees, though they can reach the Commission on Judicial Performance, are initially dealt with by the Superior Court’s presiding judge, after procedural rights are accorded the bench officer.
Given the imminency of the election, there is a sub-zero chance that Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger would institute an immediate inquiry. Should Loo be elected a week from today, it’s the commission that ought to review the conduct; she would come under its aegis in January. On the other hand, if she loses, the “start button” should be hit by Czuleger on the Superior Court’s disciplinary machinery, with next year’s presiding judge, Charles McCoy, making the call.
If McCoy does fill that role, one possible sanction, and an appropriate one, would be that provided for in California Rules of Court, rule 10.703(j)(3)(D): “A public written reprimand to the subordinate judicial officer.”
Action should also be taken, in our view, by the Los Angeles Times. It endorsed Loo in the primary—though noting that it was doing so “with some reservations”—and remarking that she was “narrowly, the better choice.”
In tallying the candidates’ relative plus-marks and minus-marks at that time, it came to its conclusion. If the scores were close then, they can’t be deemed to be so now. Loo has shown herself to be a barefaced liar.
We do not see how the Times, in good faith, could continue its support of such a person.
Loo’s duplicity simply should not be countenanced by voters, by the Superior Court’s presiding judge or the Commission on Judicial Performance, or by our county’s leading newspaper.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company