Thursday, February 9, 2012
Three Local Judges Draw Challenges on Last Day of Filing
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Three Los Angeles Superior Court judges drew challenges yesterday, the last day of filing for incumbents and their challengers.
Judge Sanjay T. Kumar is being challenged by Kim E. Smith, a Hawthorne deputy city attorney who ran in a large field in 2010, for the seat ultimately won by Judge Randy Hammock.
Judge James D. Otto is being challenged by Long Beach sole practitioner Kenneth R. Hughey. Judge Lynn Olson faces a challenge from Douglas Weitzman, a veteran of several previous runs for the court.
Kumar has been a judge since then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him in 2005. He previously had been a commissioner, a post to which he was appointed in 2001 by the court’s judges.
Court of Appeal
The jurist, who is currently sitting on assignment in Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal, was previously a state deputy attorney general and successfully argued for the prosecution in defense of the murder convictions of Erik and Lyle Menendez.
He was also the state’s appellate attorney in the securities-fraud prosecution of financier Charles Keating, whose convictions were overturned in a habeas corpus proceeding based on what the federal courts found to be flaws in the jury instructions.
The Chicago native attended public schools there and is a graduate of Loyola University in that city. He came west to attend Pepperdine Law School, was admitted to the State Bar in 1990, and spent his entire career prior to becoming a commissioner arguing criminal appeals on behalf of the state.
Smith was previously a Los Angeles deputy district attorney. He is a retired military reserve officer who served in the Gulf War, and a former deputy sheriff, and played college football.
Olson was elected six years ago, defeating then-Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs. She was the first challenger in the county to defeat an incumbent judge in a countywide race in 18 years.
High Spending Race
Olson, a Democrat, spent $120,000 in defeating Janavs, whom she said she targeted because of her Republican affiliation and reputation for being gruff with attorneys. Prior to her election, Olson, who had taken inactive status after having been an associate with two large law firms, helped run the Manhattan Beach bagelry that she owns with her husband.
Weitzman, an attorney and realtor, is running for the fourth time. His last bid for the court was two years ago against Judge Soussan Bruguera. Weitzman touted his experience as a judge pro tem and arbitrator/mediator in that campaign, but Bruguera won easily.
Bruguera’s consultant in that contest was Fred Huebscher, who is a close friend of Olson and advised her in that race six years ago. Huebscher said yesterday he expected the incumbent “to wage an aggressive campaign.”
Otto has been a judge of the court since 2003. He joined the Long Beach firm of Altman, Otto & Kong in 2001 after 25 years with Cummins & White, including service as that firm’s managing partner.
His practice emphasized complex insurance cases and toxic torts. While in practice, he was named a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and served on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Huey, who turns 80 in May, would be one of the oldest new judges ever to serve in the state. He is a Long Beach sole practitioner, and a former Los Angeles deputy city attorney, who went to law school in his 60s after having been a fighter pilot, a Vietnam POW, and an aerospace administrator.
He worked at the City Attorney’s Office from 1997 to 2010.
While no further challenges to incumbent judges are possible, candidates for three open seats have until Monday to file their declarations of intent.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company