Friday, May 11, 2012
LACBA Rates Judge Olson, Five Other Candidates ‘Not Qualified’
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Six of the 16 candidates seeking election to the Los Angeles Superior Court this year are “not qualified” for the position, the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee reported yesterday.
The six, who are running in four different races, are Joe Escalante, Lawrence Kaldor, Kim Smith, Lynn Olson, Douglas Weitzman, and Kenneth Hughey.
Escalante, who is a musician and record producer as well as an attorney, and Kaldor, a litigator with a largely pro bono practice, are seeking the seat that Judge Deborah Andrews is giving up after three terms. Also running for that seat are Deputy District Attorneys Sean Coen and Craig Gold, both of whom were rated “qualified.”
None of the candidates in that race have previously sought election as a judge.
Smith, an assistant city attorney in Hawthorne, is running against Judge Sanjay T. Kumar. Kumar received the highest possible rating, “exceptionally well qualified.”
Smith was also rated not qualified when he ran for an open seat two years ago.
Weitzman, who is an attorney and real estate broker, is challenging Olson for the seat she won six years ago, when she defeated Judge Dzintra Janavs. She was the first candidate to defeat an incumbent judge in a countywide race in 18 years, and was victorious despite being rated not qualified, while Janavs was rated exceptionally well qualified.
Weitzman has run for the court three times previously, and been rated not qualified each time.
Hughey, a first-time judicial candidate who is retired from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and now maintains an office in Long Beach, is challenging Judge James D. Otto, who was rated exceptionally well qualified.
Escalante, Olson, Weitzman, Smith, and Hughey did not return phone calls yesterday. Kaldor had previously discussed his rating with the MetNews, saying he was told he lacked sufficient trial experience.
Kaldor said the low rating would not discourage him, and that he intended “to keep moving forward on my journey to being a judge.”
In its report yesterday, LACBA explained that a rating of not qualified “reflects the Committee’s opinion that these candidates do not adequately possess one or more of the following attributes”—“Integrity and character,” “Judgment and intellectual capacity,” “Fairness,” “Experience,” “Industry and diligence,” “Judicial temperament, including whether the candidate would be courteous and considerate of counsel, parties, witnesses and jurors, and whether the candidate is even-tempered,” “Professional ability and knowledge of the law,” “Absence of health problems that affect the ability to serve as a judge,” and “Positive professional reputation in the community.”
While the committee apparently advised the candidates which of the above attributes they were found to lack, it did not do so in its report, as it has in some past years.
In addition to the four races where one or more candidates were found not qualified, there are two contests on this year’s ballot where all of the candidates were rated qualified or better.
In the contest to succeed Judge Judith VanderLans, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Thompson drew a well qualified rating, while Deputy District Attorney Shannon Knight and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Matt Schonbrun were adjudged qualified.
In the race for the seat of recently retired Judge Anita Dymant, Deputy District Attorney Eric Harmon and environmental lawyer Berj Parseghian were found to be well qualified, and personal injury attorney Ben Brees was given the rating of qualified.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company