Friday, June 6, 2008
LACBA Rating Process Worked Well, Committee Chair Says
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The County Bar’s candidate evaluation process worked well in Tuesday’s primary, and the results of the voting reflect that, the chairman of the group’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee said.
“I am very pleased with the outcomes,” Brent Braun told the MetNews. “I can’t say enough about my vice-chairs and the members of the subcommittees” who interviewed the candidates and made the initial recommendations, he said.
Braun noted that of the 10 contests in which the committee evaluated candidates, there were only two in which another candidate received a higher LACBA rating than the high vote-getter. Those were the contests for Office Nos. 82 and 95.
In Office No. 82, Referee Cynthia Loo, rated “qualified,” finished three percentage points ahead of Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson, rated “well qualified.” The two will face off in a Nov. 4 runoff.
In Office No. 95, Superior Court Referee Patricia Nieto defeated Deputy Attorney General Lance Winters. Nieto was rated “well qualified,” while Winters was the only candidate apart from incumbent Judge Ralph Dau to receive the top rating of “exceptionally well qualified.”
Rubinson commented yesterday that he considered the rating to be an important part of his campaign and has publicized it on his website and on slate mailers and handouts.
Braun said the process worked better this year than in the past because “we got our results out a lot earlier than we had in the past, leveraging the Internet and our relations with affiliate bars and with the media.” He also noted that this year’s ratings were used on an enhanced web page that included candidate photographs and biographies and linked to the candidates’ own websites.
This year’s process featured two races with unusual situations, one in which the candidates were not rated and another in which all four candidates were rated “not qualified.”
In the contest for Office No. 69, in which Commissioner Harvey A. Silberman defeated Deputy District Attorney Serena Raquel Murillo, the committee chose not to evaluate the contenders “due to the pendency of matters outside the control of the committee.”
The committee did not elaborate, but the statement was apparently in reference to an investigation, first reported in April by the MetNews, into whether a representative of Silberman had offered Murillo or her representative something of value as an inducement to get her to quit the race.
Braun said he regretted that the committee was unable to rate those candidates, but that the extraneous matter would have put the committee in an untenable position had it attempted the evaluation.
As to Office No. 84, where none of the candidates was able to secure even a “qualified” rating, only one of the four, Deputy Attorney General—and third-place finisher—Bob Henry offered comment on his rating.
Henry complained that the committee was influenced by gossip, which he believed to have come from other deputies. “Our office is like a big high school,” he said, in which some people are unpopular even if they are able.
The committee, he said, questioned his work habits, even though he explained that he puts in a full workday and even though his superiors in the office told the committee that the quality of his work—he represents the state in criminal appeals and habeas corpus cases—is high.
“Looking at it in retrospect,” he commented, “[JEEC members] had it out for me....”
Henry provided the MetNews with documents showing that he has one of the highest productivity rates on his “team” in the office.
Braun said the ultimate standard on which the committee rated each candidate was ”if it was my liberty and my property at stake—would I be willing to let this person make that decision?” The committee, he said, has a responsibility to the 26,000 lawyers in the county “who are the constituency of each bench officer,” and ultimately to the public to rate the candidates according to that principle, he said.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company