Friday, April 6, 2012
Sean D. Coen
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 3
Four candidates are vying for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 3. Only one of them presently has the credentials for the post: Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Sean D. Coen.
Another of them, pro bono attorney Laurence N. Kaldor, is working hard to gain the requisite experience. He’s not there, quite yet, but has potential.
The other candidates are not fit for judgeships now, and in all likelihood, never will be.
EAN D. COEN has been a deputy DA for nearly 12 years. When he tries his next felony case before a jury, it will mark the 100th time.
He is in an elite unit—Hardcore Gang—and would not be there if he were not dedicated and skilled.
An internal performance evaluation says he is respected by colleagues and by judges.
Coen is convivial, quick-witted, and committed to staying current on the law. We believe he would be an asset to the bench.
Our endorsement goes to Coen.
AURENCE N. KALDOR is a remarkable individual. The victim of an airplane crash, he lost an eye and a leg. He did not lose a love of life or a love of people.
Kaldor is imbued with compassion and is a seeker of justice. Since 2002, he has handled domestic violence matters, as a pro bono attorney at the Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law, as well as privately representing others for no fee. (One client did bake him a pie, and another bought him a cheeseburger.)
He wants to be a judge, and he is preparing for that role. He has been acting as a volunteer pro tem judge since 2009. Since the start of this year, Kaldor has been acting as a volunteer prosecutor for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
The candidate has yet to try a jury case to verdict. He has tried three civil cases to judgment before judges.
He is relatively lacking in experience now—but he’ll acquire it. Given his determination and his quest to serve, Kaldor is bound to attain a judgeship, through a future election or by appointment.
We wish him a long and rewarding career on the bench.
RAIG GOLD is a deputy district attorney. His ballot designation—which he chose—is “Criminal Trial Prosecutor.”
There’s a problem with that designation. He does not handle criminal trials. He does not prosecute criminals.
He handles civil forfeiture cases, and that’s been his assignment for about 10 years.
Put differently, Gold is a liar.
Coen pointed out the deception to the Registrar-Recorder’s Office. To its discredit, it allowed the designation. Regrettably, Coen chose not to seek a writ.
The impermissibility of the designation is beyond dispute. Elections Code §13107(a)(3) permits use on the ballot, under a candidate’s name, of “[n]o more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents.”
Within the past two years, Gold has engaged in no activity that would conceivably justify the ballot title.
“I have been a career Deputy District Attorney with over twenty two years of extensive criminal trial prosecutorial felony and civil in rem asset forfeiture experience.”
Whatever experience he had in handling felony trials which was not within the statutorily relevant period means nothing so far as legitimacy of the ballot designation is concerned.
His “civil in rem asset forfeiture experience,” on its face, does not support the ballot designation.
Rule 1-700 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility incorporates Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Ethics. That canon, in ¶B, declares: “A candidate for election…to judicial office shall not… (2) knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the…qualifications, present position, or any other fact concerning the candidate.”
Based on Gold’s deceptiveness and other negative traits, including a lack of communication skills, we do not believe he would be a sound choice for a judgeship.
OE ESCALANTE is profiled elsewhere on these pages today. He is multi-talented and colorful, possessed of some qualities—such as an active mind, a sense of humor, and the ability to communicate—which judges ought to have.
However, Escalante lacks the dignity and sense of propriety which the citizenry expects of jurists.
Comments that are quoted in the profile likening American slaves to today’s student interns—terming slaves “cotton interns”—reflect shocking insensitivity.
Escalante expresses indignation over the deceptiveness of slate mailers, and we agree with him. A candidate will buy space on a mailer aimed at Republicans, appearing to emanate from a Republican group, and implying that the office-seeker is a Republican, in essence, “one of us.” That same candidate will buy space on a slate mailer sent to Democrats, seemingly coming from a Democratic organization, spawning the impression that the person is a Democrat, like the recipient. The two mailers might well be put out by the same slate mailer outfit.
Escalante is publicizing that he signed a pledge that he would not utilize slate mailers and that he urged his competitors to do so, also. None did.
(If he does, in the end, buy space on slate mailers, he could always use the “Trutanich Defense.” Carmen Trutanich, in 2008, pledged in writing that if elected Los Angeles city attorney in 2009, he would not to run for higher office during that term or, if reelected, the next one. Trutanich, who was elected, is now running for district attorney and dismisses his pledge on the ground that his opponent did not also sign it. Trutanich’s pledge was not conditioned, nor is Escalante’s, on any opponent also signing it.)
Whether Escalante is genuinely appalled by the flimflamming of voters inherent in the slate mailer game, or merely wanted to shame competitors into avoiding that approach—the expense of which exceeds what he appears willing to spend—is unknown.
His sincerity in preaching truthfulness in judicial campaigns is to be questioned in light of two proposed ballot designations which the Registrar-Recorder’s Office bounced, and a third—“attorney/legal commentator”—which it allowed, but which probably should have been partially disallowed.
Under an administrative code provision supplementing the Elections Code, Escalante may use the description of “attorney,” despite infrequency of his practicing law, because he maintains active bar status. However, it is highly questionable whether “legal commentator” qualifies under the statute, in light of the irregularity and infrequency of his providing spot commentary on radio.
Escalante says, candidly, that he anticipates the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. will rank him “unqualified,” then jokes: “Is there an ‘extremely unqualified’?”
We, also, would expect that LACBA will assign to him its lowest rating, “not qualified.”
In our view, that would be an accurate assessment.
Escalante appears hopeful of overcoming the LACBA rating and other factors through extensive use of electronic communication—including his own radio show (on which he gives free legal advice), radio interviews, Internet interviews and postings, e-mails, and social media.
He will no doubt draw more votes than any others in the race from punk rock afficionados but will not, we would think, attract votes of those truly concerned about maintaining the high calibre of our judiciary in Los Angeles.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company