Monday, April 21, 2014
Charles M. Calderon
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 48
It is rare that the superiority of one candidate over the other in a judicial race is, by objective standards, so evident that reasonable minds could not possibly differ as to which should be elected. The contest for Superior Court Office No. 48 is such a race.
We exclude from the category of those with “reasonable minds” persons who would choose a candidate based simply on the sound of the person’s name or the familiarity of it; the ballot designation; or such factors as ethnicity or gender.
Among those who are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the contestants in this race, and who want the ablest to be chosen for our county’s trial bench, there need be no pondering.
EPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CAROL ROSE is a dedicated and seasoned prosecutor who is masterful in persuading juries. Yet, she is scattered and ditsy. One observer in Long Beach, where she is stationed, says her bungling approach is somehow endearing to jurors.
Were she on the bench, however, she would not be endearing to lawyers or litigants, or to research attorneys for appellate justices who would have to review transcripts of her rambling remarks.
Moreover, Rose has a propensity for making statements she cannot substantiate and which give every appearance of being fabrications. In being interviewed by this newspaper, she made certain representations, apparently expecting them to be taken at face value. We tend to credit the contrary recollections of former Gov. George Deukmejian, former District Attorney Steve Cooley, former state Sen. Marian Bergeson, the deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Pete Wilson, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lauren Weis Bernstein, and an unnamed deputy district attorney.
The Los Angeles Superior Court does not need judges who are—as Rose is—zany, flighty, and disorganized.
It surely does not need judges uncommitted to the truth.
HARLES M. CALDERON, formerly Senate majority leader, later Assembly majority leader, has not been in a courtroom for years. Yet, he did, in the past, practice law, in the traditional sense, as a deputy Los Angeles city attorney and as a private practitioner, and was a transactional lawyer even during his many years in the Legislature.
In formulating bills, and assessing those introduced by others, he applied his legal skills, as those in the Legislature who are lawyers are prone to do.
This entails ascertaining what the law is; gauging what impact the bill would have, not only in the context of the problem it is intended to address, but on other areas of law; and considering such matters as constitutionality, proportionality, and whether the legislation would intrude upon the province of another branch of government or crimp traditional prerogatives of local governmental entities.
As a legislator—and, particularly, in serving as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and on the Judicial Council—not only did Calderon deal with the law, but dealt with it on a broad basis.
He saw the court system, early in his career, from the narrow confines of a courtroom, as many have; more recently, he viewed it, as few do, from heights. His perspective is an expansive one, and his insights would no doubt be valued by colleagues whether in the judges’ lunchroom or, after a time, in the Executive Committee.
Calderon is much appreciated by judges in this county (and others concerned about the courts) for his efforts, in 2011 and 2012, in pushing a bill to strip the Judicial Council of its unfettered power to dictate how funds, allocated for trial courts, are to be expended within counties. AB 1208 would have largely shifted that decision to the superior courts of the various counties. The bill failed, but Calderon, the Los Angeles Superior Court, and the Alliance of California Judges, succeeded in gaining a legislative awareness of the perils of centralization of power in the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Calderon has the intelligence, judgment, maturity, and temperament to be a judge. He has the zeal to develop into an outstanding judge. The fact that his fellow Democrats in each house of the state Legislature chose him to serve as their party’s floor leader demonstrates that he inspires respect and that he possesses leadership capacity. He might well be a future presiding judge.
HIS, OF COURSE, ASSUMES that he is elected, something that is far from a certainty. Rose’s pleasant-sounding name and, more significantly, her potent ballot designation—“Child Molestation Prosecutor”—might well bring her victory.
That very ballot designation was doubtlessly a factor in the win two years ago of then-Deputy District Attorney Andrea Thompson. In that instance, the candidate utilizing the designation was well-suited for judicial service; Rose, patently, is not.
A spokesperson for the campaign consulting firm of Cerrell Associates, Inc., which is representing Calderon, points to activities in his campaign that could bring him victory. The activities include a get-out-the-vote effort on his behalf by a major labor union. That sort of approach is common in partisan political contests, not judicial elections.
While persons of reasonable minds—that is, those making reasoned decisions, possessed of the relevant facts concerning the candidates—could not, in our view, do other than to vote for Calderon over Rose, the fact remains that the vast majority of voters will make their choices based on whim or on factors wholly irrelevant to a thoughtful selection.
We can only hope that our imperfect system—one much in need of adjustment—will not result on June 3 in the election of an unfit aspirant for judicial office over a candidate with strong potential for becoming a valued member of the court.
We strongly urge a vote for Charles M. Calderon in the election for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 48.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company