Friday, January 8, 2010
Prosecutor, Former Actor to Run for Judge
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
An advisor said yesterday that Deputy District Attorney Valerie F. Salkin will seek a judgeship on the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 8 election, and Calabasas solo practitioner William M. Margolin said that he, too, will be mounting a campaign.
Political consultant Fred Huebscher said Salkin, a 12-year veteran prosecutor, will be running for an open seat, while Margolin—the only judicial candidate to take out papers against an incumbent judge—said he had done so by mistake, thinking the seat was open.
Margolin told the MetNews he had called Judge Elaine Lu, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007, to explain the situation after realizing his mistake.
Huebscher, who said he had not been retained by Salkin but is assisting her campaign “as a friend and advisor,” said Salkin has secured the endorsements of 38 judges, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. He said she has also raised over $225,000 in the past three weeks.
Huebscher said Salkin was willing to run in a large field of candidates for an open seat, but that she was committed to not running against fellow Deputy District Attorneys Alan K. Schneider and Lou Holtz Jr.
“Anyone who would run for judge would have a very hard time beating her,” Huebscher commented. “She’s got the resources, the background, and she’s a female prosecutor, all of which typically adds up to being victorious in a Los Angeles Superior Court race.”
He added that Salkin “will spend what it takes, within reason, to win,” including borrowing from her own substantial resources.
Leave of Absence
Salkin has been on a leave of absence from her position “for a few months,” Huebscher said, but he emphasized that this “break” was “to recharge her batteries” and had nothing to do with the election.
Her campaign biography states that she has completed approximately 100 jury trials and an additional 100 juvenile adjudications during her tenure with the District Attorney’s Office. She has been assigned to the Hardcore Gang Division and to the Training Division for the past two years.
The attorney received the “Prosecutor of the Month” award in September 2008 for successfully prosecuting a five-defendant, multiple-victim gang murder case, and the 2006 Outstanding Prosecutor Award from Justice for Homicide Victims for winning a conviction in a 25-year-old cold case murder.
In 2005 she received a commendation from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for her work on a narcotics prosecution task force, and the American Bar Association awarded her a “Gold Key” in 1992 for presenting a resolution to the ABA House of Delegates which criticized the military for its then-refusal to admit gays and lesbians.
Salkin currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federation/United Jewish Communities Legal Division and on the Board of LimmudLA, where she was a founding board member.
She is a past president of the National Women’s Political Caucus-LA Westside, a past vice president of the National Council of Jewish Women, and a past member of the California Democratic State Central Committee.
Salkin served for six years on the UJC National Young Leadership Cabinet, where she was Los Angeles Area Chair. She is a member of the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund and the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation Board, as well as AIPAC and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
The attorney made a bid for the state Assembly in 1996, running as a Democrat to represent the 39th district, but lost to Tony Cardenas.
Salkin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her legal education at USC before being admitted to the State Bar in 1992.
She served for four years as deputy legal counsel to then-Board of Equalization Chair Brad Sherman, now a congressman, where she worked on state tax policy prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office.
Sherman has endorsed Salkin, along with Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine Law School; Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz; past-State Bar President Sheldon Sloan; and Mexican American Bar Association President Mario Trujillo.
Margolin said he was “kinda hoping nobody runs against me,” but that if there will be only one open seat, he would pursue it, “even if there’s 300 district attorneys running.”
A civil practitioner for the past 20 years, he suggested that his background would provide some diversity to the bench.
“Most of the guys that do this are all crime fighters,” he explained. “They don’t really know how to handle civil cases until they are judges already for years.”
Margolin began his legal career with Cynthia Siddall and Associates and then moved on to Greenblatt and Associates before establishing is own office about 15 years ago, which he said handles “a lot of injury and entertainment” matters.
His third career was law, following stints as a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District and as professional actor.
Although he had a small speaking role in feature film “The Running Man,” which starred Schwarzenegger, Margolin said he had never pursued an appointment to the bench.
A graduate of California State University Northridge, Margolin also studied at the Toyal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He appeared in several commercials and had a role as a student in the television series “The Paper Chase” while an actual student at the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.
He returned to his alma mater two years ago to teach courses on contracts and torts and said he would like to run with the ballot designation of “Law Professor, Attorney-at-Law.”
The attorney said he was not sure how much he would spend, joking, “$100 million dollars, or zero, somewhere in between.”
Margolin is a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of California and its local chapter, and a former member of LACBA and the Barristers. He said he has not yet secured any endorsements or a campaign consultant.
Four candidates who have declared their intent to run for open seats on the Superior Court thus far have retained the services of campaign consultant David Gould: Deputy District Attorney Laurie Trammell Castaneda, Schneider, Holtz, and Beverly Hills attorney Mark K. Ameli.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Garcia has retained Hal Dash of Cerrell & Associates as his campaign consultant and Gould as his treasurer, and Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Thomas J. Griego has hired political consultant Parke Skelton.
Pasadena personal injury attorney Anthony de los Reyes and Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Randolph M. Hammock have retained consultant Jill Barad. West Los Angeles attorney and mediator Elizabeth A. Moreno has not publicly identified a campaign consultant.
Los Angeles attorney Douglas Weitzman, who has run twice before, is reportedly planning to make another attempt, but has not confirmed this to the MetNews.
Only one seat—that of Judge William Pounders, who has said he plans to stop down when his term ends this month—has been confirmed as open to date.
The first day for candidates to circulate paperwork in order to obtain signatures of registered voters to be submitted in lieu of a filing fee was Jan. 4 and candidates may file declarations of intent to run beginning Feb. 1. They must file final nomination documents between Feb. 16 and March 12.
The number of open seats in the June 8 primary election will not be fully determined until this spring, when sitting judges must decide whether to file re-election paperwork with the Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company