Friday, October 9, 2009
Prosecutors, Beverly Hills Lawyer Slate Campaigns for Judge
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Deputy District Attorney Alan K. Schneider said yesterday he will be a candidate for an open seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court in next year’s elections.
Schneider is a 14-year veteran deputy district attorney who has spent the past seven years in the hardcore gang division. He told the MetNews yesterday that he is currently in the middle of his 40th murder trial, and that he has over 100 jury trials under his belt.
He said he plans to run with the ballot designation of “gang homicide prosecutor,” and spend between $250,000 and $500,000 on the race. However Schneider said his campaign is still “sort of in the planning stages” and the “official kick-off will be at a later time.”
Also yesterday, Schneider’s campaign treasurer and consultant, David L. Gould, disclosed that he is representing two other candidates, Beverly Hills attorney Mark K. Ameli and Deputy District Attorney Lou Holtz Jr.
Schneider, a graduate of Tufts University in Medford, Mass., was Order of the Coif at the UC Berkeley School of Law before he joined the law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding—now Wiley Rein— in Washington D.C. He then moved to California, where he was admitted to practice in 1994.
Encouraged by Judges
Schneider said he decided to run because he felt it was “time to see how I can serve the interests of justice in another way,” since he “sort of hit the top of my profession” as a prosecutor.
“What sort of pushed me over the edge” was the encouragement he received from judges, prosecutors and members of the defense bar, he said. “I’ve had encouragement from all sides, and I think that’s a great compliment.”
He said he has also filed paperwork seeking appointment by the governor but that his application has not yet been forwarded to the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
Gould, who served as campaign treasurer for each of the 10 candidates who prevailed in last year’s local judicial races, said “the number one issue is money,” and that each of his clients are “all pretty much doing similar things at the moment,” trying to secure endorsements and raise as much cash as they can.
Ameli, Gould said, has “gotten a huge amount of contributors,” having raised over $250,000, with much support from the Iranian community. Gould said he believed Ameli would be the first judge of Iranian descent to serve on the court.
The attorney, who could not be reached for comment, is the founding member and a partner in the Law Offices of Ameli, Ayvazi & Associates LLP, which maintains offices in Beverly Hills and Encino. His practice, according to his firm profile, focuses on business matters, including preparation and negotiation of contracts, formation and administration of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies, business litigation, assisting the victims of personal injuries as a result of defective products, vehicular collisions, slip-and-fall and industrial accidents, as well as estate planning and preparation of living trusts.
Since 1994, Ameli has served as a court-appointed arbitrator and mediator, and his professional affiliations include membership with the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills Bar Association and Iranian American Lawyers Association.
The attorney earned his undergraduate degree in economics from UC Berkeley, followed by a masters degree at USC. In 1980 he graduated from the University of West Los Angeles, and was admitted to practice that same year.
Holtz started his committee about six months ago and has raised over $100,000, Gould said. “Obviously he’s a serious candidate.”
Writer, Not Coach
While Holtz shares his name with the former University of Notre Dame football coach, Gould explained that is just “a very funny coincidence.” But the deputy district attorney is the same Lou Holtz Jr. behind the screenplay for the 1996 comedy “The Cable Guy,” starring Jim Carrey.
The graduate of USC and Loyola Law School was admitted to practice in 1992 but went inactive from 1996 until 2000, during which time Gould said he pursued screenwriting before returning to the District Attorney’s office. Holtz could not be reached for comment.
Thus far, four other candidates are known to be mounting bids for open seats in next year’s election.
Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Thomas J. Griego has hired political consultant Parke Skelton and formed a committee to run for judgeship.
Griego has worked in the City Attorney’s office since 1994, and before that served as chief of staff to former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Hernandez.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Garcia yesterday confirmed that he has retained Hal Dash of Cerrell & Associates as his campaign consultant and Gould as his treasurer.
A member the Major Frauds Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District, Garcia is also a member of the City Attorney’s Identity Theft & Fraud Unit and prosecutes identity theft, government benefit fraud and piracy of intellectual property.
In August, Pasadena personal injury attorney Anthony de los Reyes of Thon & Beck said that he would run for an open seat and had already begun fundraising efforts.
De los Reyes has been vetted by the JNE Commission but said he decided to take his chances with an election because “you don’t see many people from outside the public sector getting appointments.”
Also in August, Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Randolph M. Hammock told the MetNews that he intends to make a second bid for election as a judge of the court.
In the June 2006 primary, Hammock ran as a “Consumer Law Attorney” and drew a “well qualified” rating from the Los Angeles County Bar Association. However, he finished sixth out of a field of seven candidates seeking the seat previously held by retired Judge Paula Mabrey, garnering only 8.59 percent of the vote.
Gould commented that “there’s not usually less than five” open seats available in each election cycle—about one-third of the court is up every two years—and that there is “a lot of talk about more judges retiring” this year than before because of the state’s current budget crisis and the monthly statewide court closures.
“There are people on the bench who are, you know, not happy with that,” Gould opined.
The number of open seats in the June 8, 2010 primary election will not be fully determined until next spring, when sitting judges must decide whether to file re-election paperwork with the Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
Judicial candidates may file declarations of intent to run beginning Feb. 1, and must file final nomination documents between Feb. 16 and March 12.
Filing for judicial candidates will begin in February and end in March. In the 2008 primary election, 28 candidates ran for election to 10 open seats, while 25 vied for seven open seats in 2006.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company