Wednesday, January 27, 2010
One Judicial Candidate Drops Out, Another Explains Challenge
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Claremont practitioner Nora A. Quinn said yesterday that she has decided against continuing her campaign for an open seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Since there will not be an election this year for the seat formerly held by Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, now of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Quinn said she was not going to run, although she would consider mounting another campaign in the future.
“It just makes the field that much more dense if there’s one less spot,” she explained.
Only two open seats are known to be available thus far, which are now held by Judge William Pounders, who said he plans to serve out his term, and Judge William Weisman, who has slated his retirement for May.
Quinn said she decided to bow out because “there are so many good candidates this time” and “a plethora of people interested in those two seats.”
Deputy District Attorney Alan K. Schneider has taken out paperwork to run for Pounders’ seat and fellow prosecutor Valerie F. Salkin has done so for Weisman’s. Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Thomas Griego has also said he plans to file for Weisman’s seat.
Quinn, a member of the Equity Oversight Panel of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who has served as a pro tem administrative law judge in the Van Nuys regional office of the Special Education Division of the Office of Administrative Hearings since last November, said that Griego would be “the main person I would endorse” remaining in the race.
The other hopefuls are Calabasas solo practitioner William M. Margolin; Deputy District Attorneys Laurie Trammell Castaneda and Lou Holtz Jr.; Beverly Hills attorney Mark K. Ameli; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Garcia; Pasadena personal injury attorney Anthony de los Reyes; Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Randolph M. Hammock; and West Los Angeles attorney and mediator Elizabeth A. Moreno.
Judge Laura A. Matz also faces a challenge by Los Angeles attorney Marvin G. Fischler in the June 8 primary.
Matz did not return a call for comment, and Fischler said he had thought every seat was filled and selected Matz’s seat “basically…at random.”
“There were a couple people I did not want to run against because I know they’re good judges,” he said. “But I’m not saying that Judge Matz is not, because I don’t know her personally.”
The attorney said he may switch to a different race if another seat opens up.
Potential contenders must file declarations of intent to run between Feb. 1 and Feb. 10, with an extension to Feb. 16 for open seats. Those who have filed declarations must then file nomination documents between Feb. 16 and March 12 in order to officially become candidates.
Fischler acknowledged that challengers historically have rarely unseated incumbent judges, but said he plans to “try to get out there and meet as many people as I can in the next three months…and try to get them to understand that I’m trying to make a difference.”
Working without a campaign consultant, Fischler said he was planning a “grass-roots” approach, involving “some late nights, some flyering and hand-shaking and attending various public events.”
Fischler added that he has not engaged in any fundraising or sought any endorsements, nor had he ever sought appointment to the bench.
After practicing for over 25 years, Fischler said he was “a little frustrated by what I see in the court systems as some indifference in the system…a failure to listen to people and their cases.”
He opined that some judges “just seem to be so preoccupied with the proceeding, the day-to-day typical grind it out…, they don’t really hear what’s going on” and presiding over cases “becomes almost rote, mechanical.”
Fischler declined to provide any specific examples, but vowed, if he were elected, he would “bring back some of equality and humanity to the justice system” which it had “lost a lot of in the past few years.”
A 1979 graduate of the Claremont Men’s College—now Claremont McKenna—Fischler was Order of the Coif at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and was admitted to practice in 1982.
After graduation, he said he joined the firm of Grueskin & Bunnage and a year later, moved on to Hosp, Lytle, Granieri and Richards. In 2008, Fischler joined his current firm, Gittler & Bradford.
Fischler described his practice as “general civil,” consisting of some insurance defense work and a “smattering” of probate matters.
Although he admitted that prosecutors “tend to make the climb” to the bench by election and appointment more often than civil practitioners, he attributed this to the fact that prosecutors “tend to get more air-time than somebody who is suing someone over a $25,000 contract.”
But Fischler insisted that civil lawyers could still be good bench officers, and suggested that they may even be better suited to be judges since prosecutors “are not looking to maybe see what’s fair or right, they’re only looking to get a conviction.”
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company