Friday, February 10, 2012
Punk Rock Musician ‘Pretty Sure’ He Will Run for Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An attorney who is also a punk rock musician and former host of a morning drive show on a local FM station said yesterday he is “pretty sure” he will follow through on his plan for run for an open seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Joseph Escalante took out the declaration-of-intent form Wednesday to run for the seat being vacated by Judge Deborah Andrews, who is stepping down after 18 years on the bench. If he returns the form by Monday, he will join Deputy District Attorney Sean Coen in the contest.
“It looks pretty solid,” as far as his prospective candidacy is concerned, he told the MetNews. “I almost did it two years ago.”
Escalante, 49, is a graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School who has performed with The Vandals since high school. He worked for CBS as a talent and program negotiator for four years, then left to tour with the band and operate Kung Fu Records, which he still does.
“The music business got big all of a sudden” around 1996, he explained. “It’s not so great anymore, so I went back to doing private practice.”
He also hosted “The Last of the Famous International Morning Shows” on 103.1 FM from 2006 to 2008.
He has a few criminal and civil clients, he explained, and gives free legal advice to other artists and entertainers. He has worked frequently as a judge pro tem in the last two years, he added.
He has thought about running for the bench for awhile, he said, and “got more motivated” since becoming “a defendant in an abusive lawsuit” alleging that he infringed a trademark on an album cover. He settled in 2004, he explained, because he “couldn’t afford to fight” the well-heeled publisher who sued him, even though he had a valid fair use defense.
“Then seven years later they said they saw the image again on the Internet and sued us again.”
That experience, he said, convinced him that the bench needs more judges with knowledge of civil law in general, and intellectual property in particularly.
As far as his prospective opponent is concerned, “I understand he’s a really good prosecutor, I just don’t think there’s a need for more prosecutors becoming judges,” he commented.
“That leads to the same candidate in every race, one after another,” he added. “I don’t know where that leads our justice system.”
He said he will be making decisions on how much money to spend and whether to hire a consultant in the next few days. But he will not run “on a shoestring,” he said.
Besides the Andrews seat, there are two other open seats, now held by Judges Judith Vander Lans and Anita Dymant.
Deputy District Attorneys Shannon Knight and Andrea Thompson have filed for the Vander Lans seat, while Deputy District Attorney Eric Harmon is at present unopposed for Dymant’s post.
Harmon’s consultant, Hal Dash of Cerrell Associates Inc., said he is not surprised to see Harmon in that position, given his strong record as a prosecutor and heavy fundraising. He said Harmon, who had previously banked $135,000 for the race, hauled in another $55,000 Tuesday night at a fundraiser emceed by District Attorney Steve Cooley and hosted by actor/writer/director/producer Peter Berg, the creative partner of Harmon’s wife, Sarah Aubrey.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company