Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, April 29, 2010


Page 4


Two Judicial Candidates Express Dissatisfaction With LACBA Evaluation

Salkin Reports ‘Qualified’ Rating Upheld on Appeal


By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer


Beverly Hills practitioner Mark K. Ameli and Redondo Beach sole practitioner Pattricia M. Vienna yesterday told the MetNews that they disagreed with the tentative ratings they received from the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Election Evaluations Committee, but only Ameli said he planned to appeal.

Deputy District Attorney Valerie F. Salkin also reported that she received a tentative rating of “qualified” which was upheld on appeal.

Ameli, one of eight candidates seeking the seat being vacated by Judge Emily Stevens in the June 8 primary said he was “not happy” with his tentative rating, which he declined to disclose, and that he will meet with the group again tonight.

Vienna, a member of the field of four vying to succeed Judge William R. Pounders, said she will not challenge the committee’s evaluation of her as “not qualified” to serve as a judge, even though she disagreed with the rating.

 “Among other attributes, I believe my work with the Temporary Judge Program has been valuable and provided on-the-job training necessary to sit as a judge,” she remarked. However, the candidate said she would not appeal because she did not think she would be successful in altering the committee’s decision.

“The committee said the rating was based on, ‘a lack of substantial courtroom experience and a lack of substantial legal work and experience as demonstrated by limited references as to your experience,’ ” Vienna said.

Vienna Cites Records

She commented that she told the group the first 18 years of her practice were “very busy in the field of civil litigation,” and she “would have maintained better records,” had she anticipated her future judicial campaign.

Vienna added that many of her old billing records were destroyed in a flood, and that she doubted the records she was able to locate would be sufficient evidence of her experience for the committee.

Although Vienna entered the 2008 race for an open seat created by the retirement of Judge Dzintra Janavs, she did not receive a rating before she bowed out to lend her support to her opponent, then-Deputy District Attorney Jared Moses, who later won. 

In the last election cycle, LACBA rated 10 out of 20 candidates as being “not qualified” for office, including all four candidates who ran to succeed Judge Gibson Lee. Seven candidates were evaluated as “qualified.”

Salkin said she was “pleased the committee found that I was qualified,” but she “had been hoping to be ranked well-qualified” and being “a little superstitious about it,” had not wanted to disclose her evaluation until the entire process was complete.

Three-Way Race

The prosecutor is in a three-way race for the seat being vacated by Judge William R. Weisman. Her opponents, San Pedro attorney R. Stephen Bolinger and Pasadena attorney Anthony “Tony” de los Reyes, both said they received the committee’s second-highest rating, “well-qualified,” last week.

Among Vienna’s opponents this year are District Attorney Alan K. Schneider, Deputy City Attorney Thomas J. Griego and Calabasas civil litigator William M. Margolin. Schneider reported receiving a “well-qualified” rating last Friday, while Griego and Margolin did not return calls yesterday.

None of Ameli’s opponents responded to inquires yesterday regarding their evaluations except Hawthorne Deputy City Attorney Kim Smith, who said he had not yet been notified of his rating.

There are a total of 21 candidates in six judicial races on this year’s ballot. Fifteen candidates are competing for three open seats and three incumbent judges are being challenged.

Incumbent Judges

A campaign consultant for Judge Maren E. Nelson disclosed that she had received the committee’s highest rating, and Judge Soussan G. Bruguera told the MetNews she was rated “well qualified.” Judge Laura A. Matz has not reported receiving her evaluation yet.

The judges are the respective targets of Los Angeles attorneys Jim G. Baklayan, Douglas W. Weitzman and Marvin G. Fischler, none of whom returned calls yesterday.

Gretchen Nelson, chair of the committee, said yesterday that the group had finished its initial assessment of all of this year’s candidates and everyone “should have” received their evaluations.

She said she anticipated the appeals process would conclude today and the finalized list of ratings would be released early next month.


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