Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Two More Prosecutors Seek Open Seats on Superior Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Two more deputy district attorneys are running for the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong and Stacey Okun-Weise both told the MetNews that they will seek open seats in the primary election set for June 10 of next year.
The two have much in common—both are Southwestern Law School graduates who have spent more than a decade in the office, both are married with young children, each has the endorsement of District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and each has retained the services of David Gould as campaign consultant and treasurer.
And both say they would like to avoid running against a fellow prosecutor, although there is no way of gauging how many open seats will be available, or how many people might end up running for them.
Armstrong said running for the bench had been “in the back of my mind since law school,” but that she became particularly interested after having worked at JAMS before earning her law degree.
She also intends to apply for an appointment from Gov. Jerry Brown, although as a Republican—she once worked in the office of then-Assemblyman Steve Kuykendall and has a large picture of herself and President Reagan on her Facebook page—her prospects are admittedly unclear. Fewer than 10 percent of Brown’s judicial appointees have been Republicans.
Armstrong—whose undergraduate degree is from California State University, Long Beach—explained that she did not apply under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because he was in the last months of his term when she reached the minimum threshold of 10 years’ State Bar membership to become eligible for the office.
Besides her legal knowledge and experience, she explained, she said she will bring an appropriate temperament to the bench. “I think I’m very patient and yet firm at the same time,” Armstrong said.
She had planned to hold a campaign kickoff event in Pasadena this month, but that will have to be postponed because of a medical issue involving her father, she said. Besides Lacey, she has the endorsements of former District Attorney Steve Cooley and approximately 25 judges, she said.
She cites as an inspiration Judge Candace Beason, before whom she recently completed a major trial. Armstrong said she is extremely proud that the defense lawyer in that case, Beverly Bourne—herself a recent appointee to the Superior Court—has endorsed her candidacy.
The candidate and her husband, Ted Armstrong, a sports performance coach, have one child.
Okun-Weise said she had been thinking about running for the bench since her days “as a baby D.A.” She said she has been “respectful and fair” as a prosecutor and hoped to bring “the temperament and demeanor to run a courtroom efficiently” to the office.
A Democrat, she applied for appointment last year, but she has not heard from the governor’s office or the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. She is married to a Monterey Park police lieutenant—they met when she was assigned to the Alhambra Courthouse—and they have two children.
She said she hopes to follow in the footsteps of other prosecutors she has known who have gone on to the bench. She noted that she frequently speaks to Judge Eric Harmon, with whom she struck up a friendship when she replaced him in the Major Crimes Division.
Harmon was elected to the Superior Court last year.
Okun-Weise said she has already begun her campaign fundraising, holding some small events in the Glendora area where she lives. She is originally from the San Fernando Valley and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, where she was working toward a career in social work before a friend of her sister graduated from Loyola Law School and inspired her to seek a legal career of her own, she said.
The MetNews reported last month that another deputy district attorney, Alison Matsumoto Estrada, will run for an open seat on the Superior Court. In addition, real estate broker/attorney Douglas Weitzman reported on avvo.com, a legal marketing website, that he intends to launch a candidacy in February.
It would be the fifth time Weitzman has run for the court. He obtained about 30 percent of the vote in a challenge to Judge Lynn Olson last year.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company