Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 113
Stacy Wiese has been a Los Angeles county deputy district attorney for 14 years. She has conducted 63 prosecutions, which include 20 murder cases. Wiese is well regarded within her department, as well as among criminal defense attorneys and judges.
She is intelligent, fair-minded, effective, and hard-working.
Her department has placed much faith in her, assigning her to handle high profile cases, in the Major Crimes Unit. Attorneys in that unit are the ones who are on camera, who are quoted in newspapers, who can make the department look good, or look bad.
Those dealing with her do not have to wonder what she really means when she says something. She is straight-talking.
Wiese does lack civil experience. Many judges were strangers to civil law before going on the bench, yet successfully took on civil court assignments. Wiese is adaptable, has research skills, and is industriousness. We anticipate that, if she is elected, and even if she were immediately cast in a civil court assignment (which is unlikely), she could handle it.
HE LOS ANGELES TIMES, in its endorsements this year, appears to award bonus points to candidates based on their not being deputy district attorneys. Yet, it does endorse Wiese, saying that she “brings a compelling background that gives her important perspective on the defendants she prosecutes and those who would appear before her if she were elected judge.”
Her “compelling background” is that she was a wild and rebellious teenager who dropped out of high school, returned to a “continuation high school,” and was booted out after telling a teacher she was a “bitch.” Wiese had a boyfriend who was a criminal, and she entered law school with the objective of defending him through the years against criminal charges.
The Times supports Wiese based on the “important perspective” this background provides her. We endorse Wiese despite the proclivities her background reflects—despite her tattoos and occasional foul language.
Looking at Wiese today, as a candidate for a judgeship, the Times sees her misjudgments as a teenager in positive light, in the sense of providing her with insights. To some extent, that might be a valid point. We prefer to focus on the facts that Wiese forthrightly reveals her history, thereby reflecting honesty, and had the fortitude to hoist herself from a pit.
We hasten to add that confession of past misjudgments does not negate them, and that Wiese’s waywardness in her youth was not of a major nature.
It strikes us as ironic. The Times did not endorse Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter, a highly skilled member of her office, instead backing a woman who has hopped from one job to another, displaying excellence in none of them. It bypassed Deputy District Attorney Teresa Magno, an able prosecutor, choosing up sides with an African American deputy city attorney who blatantly engages in racism by exhorting blacks to vote for her solely because she is black and seeking to shame non-blacks into voting for her because no African American (with a couple of exceptions) has been elected to the Los Angeles Superior Court since unification of the trial courts took place in 2000.
Now, if only Carter had not lived a normal life in her teen years, but had customarily done just what Wiese did, or experimented with LSD, left poison in cat feed, or cheated on exams, well, then, she might well have found favor with the Times based upon her “important perspective.” If Magno had likewise been a teenage malefactor, she too, might have captured the Times’ support based on her “compelling background.”
TEVEN KLAIF IS WIESE’S OPPONENT. He is identified on the ballot as “Superior Court Referee.” His campaign slogan is, “Judicial Experience Matters!”
We agree with that proposition, and acknowledge that Klaif has judicial experience.
He also has ideal judicial temperament, and that matters.
But what matters even more than judicial experience or temperament is integrity. Klaif’s campaign has been marked by deceit. That reveals a character defect of the candidate which, in our view, is a disqualifying factor.
Klaif, on his campaign website, in information he has provided to the League of Women Voters posted on its “Smart Voter” website, in his campaign remarks, and in his YouTube video, seeks to create the impression that he has been presiding over cases continuously for years. In truth, he is an as-needed referee who is only periodically needed. He has served as a bench officer during portions of some years over the past 14 years, not working at all in that capacity in other years.
“I’m a Superior Court referee,” he told persons attending a candidate forum in Hacienda Heights, explaining:
“I wear the black robe. I’m addressed as ‘Your Honor.’ My decisions have the same force and effect as a judge.
“I’ve been doing this—I was appointed as a referee in 2000.”
Unmistakably, he seeks to communicate that he has been performing judicial chores continuously since 2000.
His website says: “There is a lot to be said for electing someone to the Judiciary who has been doing this work for years.”
To say he has been “doing this work for years” is bound to be understood by a voter to mean that he has been doing it for years continuously. The prospect that he has been doing it sporadically would not possibly occur to a reasonable reader of the posting.
OST EGREGIOUSLY, KLAIF features on his campaign website this statement by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Donna Quigley Groman:
“Referee Steven Klaif and I shared a juvenile delinquency caseload at Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center for almost 4 years.”
She says “for” almost four years, not “intermittently over a period of” almost four years.
According to the Random House dictionary, a definition of “for” is “over a span of (time or distance): working for six days; the river ran for six miles.” What Groman’s statement communicates is that over the span of almost four years, she and Klaif each presided over a courtroom, dividing a caseload.
If she had wanted to convey accurate information, she would simply have said that there were occasions when she couldn’t be in court and Klaif filled in for her.
An e-mail was sent to Groman asking: “Given that you served fulltime during that period of ‘almost 4 years,’ does this not imply that [Klaif] did, also?” Klaif, too, was asked to comment on that.
Neither did. (Both provided statistics as to how many days Klaif worked each year from 2010 to the present, in response to a different question posed.)
Groman and Klaif cannot explain away their factual distortion, and haven’t tried.
UVENILE COURT PRESIDING JUDGE Michael Nash says that an as-needed referee is like a “substitute teacher.”
For a person who is filling in for a regular teacher at Rockville Elementary School to claim to hold a teaching position at Rockville would plainly be dishonest, absent a disclosure of the temporary nature of the assignment.
An understudy who assumed the lead role in a Broadway play in a few performances could not truthfully recite having been the star of the show, without limiting the claim to those few instances where the regular lead actor did not show up.
For Klaif to claim to be a “Superior Court referee” without qualifying that—revealing that his service is on an irregular basis, occurring only when he is summoned—is deceptive.
Campaign deception is a clear indicator of unfitness for office.
We discern that Wiese has demonstrated, in the performance of her duties as a deputy district attorney, attributes that render her well suited for a judgeship.
Accordingly, we urge her election.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company