Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Two Candidates Report ‘Well Qualified’ Ratings From County Bar
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Two of the three candidates seeking an open seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 5 primary election said yesterday they have received “well qualified” ratings from the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Harmon and Bingham McCutchen’s Berj Parseghian both told the MetNews that they had received the committee’s second-highest rating.
Under the committee’s longstanding rules, ratings of exceptionally well qualified are final. Lower ratings—“well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified”—have been appealable, but candidates reported that they have been informed that a well-qualified rating is no longer 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.
Harmon and Parseghian are running for the seat previously held by Judge Anita Dymant, who retired earlier this month. The third candidate for that seat is Los Angeles attorney Ben Brees, who did not respond to an e-mail inquiry about his rating and could not be reached by telephone late yesterday.
Thus far this year, only two candidates are known to have been rated exceptionally well qualified, and both are incumbent judges—Sanjay Kumar and James Otto.
Other candidates who have disclosed their ratings include Deputy District Attorneys Sean Coen and Shannon Knight, and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Matt Schonbrun. All three reported that they were rated qualified and will not appeal.
Coen is running for the seat of Judge Deborah Andrews, who is not seeking a new term. His opponents are attorney Joe Escalante, Deputy District Attorney Craig Gold, and litigator Lawrence Kaldor.
Knight and Schonbrun are seeking the seat now held by Judge Judith VanderLans. Also seeking that post is Deputy District Attorney Andrea Thompson.
Only one incumbent, besides Otto and Kumar, is being challenged.
Judge Lynn D. Olson, who told the MetNews she was too busy with work and family responsibilities to participate in the evaluation process, has declined to comment on her rating. Her opponent, Douglas Weitzman, did not disclose his tentative rating but is scheduled to have his appeal heard tonight.
Hermosa Beach Assistant City Attorney Kim Smith, who is challenging Kumar, and Long Beach attorney Kenneth Hughey, who is taking on Otto, have not responded to inquiries about their ratings.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company