Thursday, April 26, 2012
Two Challenged Judges Rated ‘Exceptionally Well Qualified’ By County Bar Judicial Elections Committee
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Two Los Angeles Superior Court judges who have been challenged for reelection have received the highest possible rating from the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee, the MetNews has learned.
A source familiar with the ratings, who is not authorized to release the information and asked for anonymity, said Judges James D. Otto and Sanjay T. Kumar were rated “exceptionally well qualified.”
Under the committee’s longstanding rules, ratings of exceptionally well qualified are final. Lower ratings—“well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified” are appealable.
The initial ratings are assigned by the committee, based on recommendations by subcommittees. Subcommittee assignments are made so that all of the candidates in a given race are interviewed by the same subcommittee, and if an appeal is taken, the candidate is interviewed by the full committee.
Otto confirmed that he had been notified of a rating, but declined to say what it was, explaining that the committee asked him not to comment until all of the ratings have been finalized and released. Kumar could not be reached.
Otto is being challenged by Long Beach attorney Kenneth Hughey, a former deputy Los Angeles city attorney running as “Retired Criminal Prosecutor” on the June 5 ballot. Kumar’s opponent is Kim Smith, a Hawthorne assistant city attorney who will be listed as “Criminal Prosecutor.”
Attempts to reach Smith and Hughey for comment were unsuccessful. Smith has been accused of challenging Kumar because of the jurist’s Indian surname and ancestry.
Otto—the South District supervising judge—said he believes that Judge J.D. Lord, who was upset at a change in his case assignment, encouraged Hughey to run. Otto said, however, that he came to that conclusion on the basis of “circumstantial evidence.”
One other judge is being challenged this year. Efforts to learn Judge Lynn Olson’s rating were unsuccessful, but sources said Olson—who successfully challenged then-Judge Dzintra Janavs six years ago—chose not to cooperate in the ratings process.
Olson is being challenged by attorney/real estate broker and perennial candidate Douglas Weitzman.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company