Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, May 2, 2008


Page 1


LACBA Panel Says It Will Not Rate Murillo or Silberman

Fourth-Time Candidate Henry Is Latest to Draw ‘Not Qualified’ Rating


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee will not be issuing ratings for Deputy District Attorney Serena R. Murillo or Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman, the committee’s chair, Brent A. Braun confirmed yesterday.

Braun said that the committee had “elected not to conduct an evaluation of either candidate” running for Office No. 69, the Superior Court seat being vacated by Judge Tracy Grant, “due to the pendency of matters outside the control of the committee.”

Braun also said that unexpected delays had arisen that might push release of the committee’s final report to next Tuesday, rather than today or Monday as the MetNews had previously reported.

He declined further comment on the matters affecting the ratings for Office No. 69, but Murillo told the MetNews that, although she declines to speculate as to the committee’s reasons for the decision, she has “a clear conscience” and is “not under investigation” by any agencies.

Silberman’s campaign consultant, Evelyn Jerome Alexander of SJA Strategies, confirmed that her client had been notified of the committee’s decision, and said that he was “disappointed because the process is very involved, and the candidates put a lot of effort into it.”

However, she said that she did not know the reason for the committee’s decision and declined to speculate.

Active Investigation

The MetNews reported last month that the Los Angeles District Attorney Office is actively investigating allegations that a campaign operative representing Silberman illegally offered something of value to induce Murillo to leave the race.

Murillo, who is represented by Cerrell Associates Inc., said at the time that she was not personally contacted about getting out of the race, but that she believed an approach was made to the Cerrell firm.

Hal Dash, president of the Cerrell firm, similarly declined comment at the time, but another source confirmed that the District Attorney’s office were investigating the matter.

Elections Code Violation

Elections Code Sec. 18205 provides:

“A person shall not directly or through any other person advance, pay, solicit, or receive or cause to be advanced, paid, solicited, or received, any money or other valuable consideration to or for the use of any person in order to induce a person not to become or to withdraw as a candidate for public office.  Violation of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.”

An uncompleted attempt to violate the statute would apparently carry a penalty of between eight and 18 months in prison under Penal Code Sec. 664.

Attorneys for Alexander and her partner, Randy Steinberg, said they expected their clients to be cleared of any wrongdoing.

When contacted as part of the previous report, Silberman expressed surprise, saying he had not been made aware of any investigation, and that if any approach was made, it was “absolutely not” with his knowledge or authorization.

Braun said that the committee’s decision was the first time in the 18 years he has been affiliated with the committee, “on and off,” that it had declined to rate all of the candidates in a particular race.

In other news, Deputy Attorney General Bob Henry reported that he had been rated “not qualified” in his bid for Office No. 84, and Superior Court Commissioner Patricia D. Nieto said that the committee had rated her “well qualified” for Office No. 95.

Henry, who ran for the court in 1992, 2004, and 2006, provided the MetNews with a copy of the committee’s letter, in which Braun said he had received the rating based on “lack of judicial temperament,” “Issues related to industry and diligence,” and “judgment with respect to representation of the prior ratings of this Committee on your campaign website.”

The last reference appears to relate to the fact that during his last campaign, Henry, now 63, stated on his site that he had been rated “Well Qualified” in 2004, but omitted the then-current rating of “Qualified.” When he was interviewed by the committee, Henry said yesterday, members told him that he should have listed the current rating instead of, or in addition to, the previous one.

Henry insisted that he had been “absolutely honest with the committee and with the public,” and emphatically denied that he has been less than diligent in his work.

A California deputy attorney general since 1974, and the office’s “Deputy of the Year” in 1992, he provided copies of letters sent to the committee by two supervising deputies.

Keith H. Borjon, the capital case coordinator in the Los Angeles office, told the committee on April 22 that Henry—who handles capital appeals and both capital and non-capital habeas corpus litigation—is “a dedicated prosecutor who puts in more than 40 hours per week” and who “readily accepts whatever assignments come his way, and has been known to assist others with their workload.”

Borjon added:

“He is known as an attorney with good productivity who has handled a number of large protracted capital cases. If elected to judicial office, I would expect him to be an equally productive judge.”

Kenneth Byrne, who oversees the office’s responses to non-capital habeas petitions, wrote the committee on April 21 that Henry “does not shirk work or try to get away with doing less than his fair share of work.” Henry, he said, “is extremely interested in our federal court work, and often has been proactive in suggesting various approaches to our legal responses and positions.”

Henry also provided a recording of a voice mail message he received from his direct supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Susan Martynec, who said she had told a committee member who inquired about Henry’s work habits that he always gets his assignments done and was “a good producer.”

Candidates whose names will appear on the June 3 primary ballot, and their ratings, are:

Office No. 4—Judge Ralph W. Dau has been rated “extremely well qualified,” but the rating of his challenger, Redondo Beach attorney Sydnee Singer, remains unknown;

Office No. 72—Deputy District Attorney Marc A. Chomel has been rated “qualified” and Deputy District Attorney Hilleri Grossman Merritt has been rated “well qualified,” while the rating of Tarzana attorney Steven A. Simons remains unknown;

Office No. 82—Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson has been rated “well qualified,” while Deputy District Attorney Mark Lee has declined to state his rating and the rating of Referee Cynthia Loo remains unknown;

Office No. 84—Henry has been rated “not qualified” and Commissioner Lori-Ann C. Jones has declined to state her rating, while the ratings of Deputy District Attorney Pat Connolly and Administrative Law Judge John “Johnny” Gutierrez remain unknown;

Office No. 94—Deputy District Attorney Michael O’Gara has been rated “well qualified” and Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack has been rated “qualified,” while the rating of Deputy District Attorney Eduard R. Abele remains unknown;

Office No. 95—Nieto has been rated “well qualified” and Deputy Attorney General Lance E. Winters has been rated “extremely well qualified;”

Office No. 119—Deputy District Attorney Jared D. Moses has been rated “well qualified,” while Los Angeles attorney Robert R. Davenport has said he has not been advised of his rating and the rating of Los Angeles attorney Douglas W. Weitzman remains unknown;

Office No. 123—North Hills attorney Richard A. Nixon declined to state his rating, while the ratings of Deputy District Attorney B. Kathleen Blanchard and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Alan Nadir remain unknown;

Office No. 125—Superior Court Commissioner James Bianco has been rated “well qualified,” while Los Angeles attorney Bill Johnson’s rating remains unknown;

Office No. 154—Superior Court Commissioner Rocky Crabb and Deputy District Attorney Michael V. Jesic have both been rated “well qualified,” while the rating of Deputy Attorney General Paul “Pablo” Bruguera remains unknown.


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