Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, January 6, 2012


Page 1


Sean Coen Takes Out Signature-In-Lieu Papers for Seats of Two Retiring Superior Court Judges


By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer


Deputy District Attorney Sean Coen has taken out the necessary paperwork to solicit signatures in lieu of a filing fee, as a candidate for the offices currently held by Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Judith Vander Lans and Anita Dymant.

Vander Lans told the MetNews last month that she is not planning on running for re-election, and Dymant has implied that she too will not, but both have declined to discuss the matter further.

Court officials yesterday could not confirm whether or when Vander Lans or Dymant may retire.

If either steps down after Feb. 13, when the nominating period for judicial races begins, the contest for that seat will be on the June primary ballot. Should either judge retire before then, there will be no election for that seat this year and the governor can fill it by appointment.

Coen’s consultant, David Gould, emphasized that Coen, the son of Superior Court  Judge Ronald Coen, who is himself up for re-election this year, will not challenge any sitting judge.

Over 150 judicial seats are scheduled to be on the June ballot, and only Vander Lans and Dymant have indicated their seats may become available to the five local attorneys who have begun campaigning.

Other candidates who have said they are seeking open seats include Deputy District Attorneys Eric Harmon and Andrea Thompson, Deputy City Attorney Matthew Sconbrun, and San Fernando Valley practitioner Lawrence Kaldor.

Thompson could not be reached yesterday, but the other candidates indicated that they have not yet selected a seat for which to take out papers.

Gould yesterday reported that Sean Coen has raised “about $200,000,” and his website lists the endorsements of 55 current and former judges, with the recent additions of Judges Ronald A. Rose, Monica Bachner, Craig Mitchell, Drew E. Edwards, Anne H. Egerton, Alan Schneider, Joan Comparet-Cassani, John J. Lonergan, Cynthia Ulfig, Charlaine Olmedo, Tamara Hall, Elizabeth A. Lippitt, James E. Horan, Richard A. Stone, Patrick Connolly, and Norm Shapiro, as well as retired Judge Robert O’Neill.

Coen has also secured the backing of District Attorney Steve Cooley, Chief Deputy Jacquelyn Lacey, Head Deputy Peter Cagney, Assistant Head Deputy Alan Jackson, Deputy In-Charge Mario Trujillo, six other colleagues and 19 criminal defense attorneys.

Cooley is also actively supporting Harmon, whom he praised yesterday as “a terrific prosecutor and a fine person” who “will be an excellent addition to the bench.”

Harmon said he is also being endorsed by 100 deputy district attorneys and 30 bench officers, including Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley, and Judges Patricia Schnegg, William Pounders, C. H. Rehm, Gregory Dohi, Michael Jesic, Renee Korn, Valerie Salkin, Alan Schneider, Michael O’Gara, Ricardo Ocampo, Michael Pastor, Hank Goldberg, Ann Jones, Scott Gordon, Frederick Wapner, Stephen Marcus, Upinder Kalra, Mark Mooney, Christian Gullon, Dymant, Michael Kellogg, Thomas Rubinson, Ruth Kwan, Craig Mitchell, Jared Moses, Daviann Mitchell, Darrell Mavis, and Craig Veals, and retired Judge Maral Injejikian.

 Harmon reported having raised $125,000 in 2011, and said his goal is to have $225,000 by the primary. These numbers, he related, hopefully demonstrate “how formidable” an opponent he will be during the primary, but also his effectiveness in getting a job done.

“I want to run my campaign the way I’d run my courtroom,” he explained.

 Kaldor said yesterday that he has raised about $150,000, with $110,000 coming from his own pocket.  He said he was hoping to raise $200,000 for the primary in June.

The candidate has retained Gould as his campaign manager, and is also being advised by Glen-Lambert Levey & Diener, a Century City-based political consultancy firm.

To date, Kaldor is the only candidate from the private sector, and even though prosecutors have historically fared better in judicial elections, Kaldor said he was undaunted by the possibility of running against one, as is likely to be the case.

His candidacy, Kaldor said, “gives people a choice of somebody coming from civil,” and even though he is in private practice, he maintained that his “whole career has been public service.”

Kaldor concentrates his work in the areas of domestic violence litigation, family law, and entertainment law, and he estimated that “90 percent of my practice is devoted to serving the Harriet Buhai Center,” which provides free family law assistance and legal education to the poor.

“I found my niche in helping people,” Kaldor said.

He described himself as “a fair person” and  “an honest person,” who is capable of empathy and sympathy for others as a result of his own experiences.

When I was 16, I was in a traumatic, traumatic plane crash,” Kaldor explains. The accident claimed his father’s life, as well as Kaldor’s leg and the vision in one eye, and the ensuing lawsuits introduced him to the legal system.

“I believe everybody goes into court with a little bit of trepidation,” he said, and as a judge, he would “want everyone to know they can come to court and be heard.”

Since 2009, Kaldor said he has served more than 500 hours as a judge pro tem in the Los Angeles Superior Court, and he has also “done considerable trial work” in his 16 years as an attorney.

He said he has experience in criminal law as well, having worked as a student prosecutor in law school and as a volunteer deputy city attorney, as part of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Training Program

Kaldor is a member of LACBA, the New York State Bar, San Fernando Valley Bar Association and the Italian American Lawyers Association. He also presently serves as a member of the board of the Valley Community Legal Foundation.  

If an open seat does not come available this year, Kaldor said he will wait to see if he is appointed to the bench, since he has submitted an application which is currently under review, or  “wait for the next cycle,” whichever comes first.

Schonbrun said yesterday that he is proceeding “full steam ahead” with his campaign. He reported that he has secured the endorsement of his boss, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and that he has three fundraisers coming up in the next few weeks.

The candidate had been working with consultant Brendan Huffman in the early stages of his campaign, but he said yesterday he has now retained the services of Jill Barad.

He said he was unsure how much money he had raised to date, but has a goal of raising $150,000 before June.

Declarations of intent to run for judge must be filed between  Jan. 30 and Feb. 8, although there will be an extension to Feb. 13 in open seats.

The primary is set for June 5, with a November runoff in any contest where no candidate receives a majority in the primary.


Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company