Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Lawyer Pulls Papers, but Will Not Challenge Incumbent Judge
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A Tarzana attorney who took out papers to run for the seat of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lauren Weis Birnstein said Friday he had done so in error and will run for an open seat instead.
Steven A. Simons, 51, explained that he did not recognize Weis Birnstein’s name when he requested the signature forms Thursday, probably because he is a civil lawyer and she mostly hears criminal cases, and did not realize that she was a judge, even though the address on her paperwork was that of the Van Nuys courthouse.
Weis Birnstein was a top sex crimes prosecutor before being elected to the court six years ago, defeating three opponents without a runoff.
There will be at least three open seats on the June 3 primary ballot, because Judges Daniel Pratt, Alan Kalkin, and Dzintra Janavs are retiring after the Feb. 6 declaration-of-intent filing deadline. A fourth seat could be on the ballot, because Judge Bradford Andrews recently retired and the governor has not filled the vacancy, although he could do so prior to Feb. 11, the first day for filing final nomination documents, thereby requiring cancellation of the election.
Simons, who has a Web site called onesmartlawyer.com, told the MetNews he is running because he has 21 years of legal experience, has done a great deal of litigation, and thinks he “can do a lot of good for people.”
A sole practitioner, his background is primarily in insurance defense and consumer rights, including “lemon law” and cases involving resale of vehicles with undisclosed collision damage and unfair consumer debt collection practices.
He said he expects to spend in the vicinity of $70,000 to $80,000 and is “trying to find” a campaign consultant.
In other election news:
•Deputy District Attorney Eduard R. Abele said he would run for an open seat on the court.
Abele, 46, has spent his entire career in law practice as a member of the District Attorney’s Office. He told the MetNews he has handled more than 100 felony jury trials, and has handled a large number of sex crimes cases in both adult felony court and the Sylmar juvenile court, to which he was formerly assigned.
He has also worked in the office’s psychiatric and major fraud units and is now assigned to San Fernando.
Serving as a judge, he said, would be a “dream” job for “a son of immigrant parents who came here with nothing on their back.” They came to the United States from Latvia, a now-independent Baltic republic that had been occupied by the Soviet Union.
Abele said he was “willing to spend what it takes” to get elected, and understands that may come to more than $200,000. He added that although he just finalized his decision to run, he has already gained the endorsements of 20 judicial officers.
He is a graduate of California State University, Northridge and Pepperdine University School of Law.
•The consultant running the campaign of Superior Court Commissioner James Bianco said that Bianco would seek the seat now held by Pratt. Parke Skelton also disclosed that Bianco has filed his campaign finance report, reflecting donations of more than $155,000 and nearly $140,00 in cash on hand through Dec. 31.
“Commissioner Bianco raised the money in less than three months, entirely in the form of contributions from 306 individual supporters,” with no personal loans or large contributions from the candidate, Skelton said.
•Commissioner Harvey Silberman, who had already announced he would run, took out papers for the seat being vacated by Janavs. Redondo Beach attorney Sydnee Singer has also taken out papers for that seat, as well as several others.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company