Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 6, 2014


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Lewis, Griego Capture Open Seats on Los Angeles Superior Court




Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego have won the last two open seats in this year’s elections for the Los Angeles Superior Court.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting from Tuesday’s runoff election, although some 244,000 provisional and absentee ballots remained to be counted, Lewis had 470,588 votes, or 55.31 percent, to 380,289, or 44.69 percent, for Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai. Griego had 477,327 votes, or 58.64 percent, to 336,670, or 41.36 percent, for Andrew M. Stein.

The terms of the winning candidates begin Jan. 5.

Lewis became the only candidate elected to the court this year, in a contested race, without benefit of the word “Prosecutor” in a ballot designation. Thirteen deputy district attorneys won seats in the June primary, including three who ran unopposed and one who defeated an incumbent judge.

Times Endorsement

Lewis had the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, which called her “the hands-down best of the class” among judicial candidates running this year. She was also backed by 59 Los Angeles Superior Court judges and 11 commissioners, in addition to the county Democratic Party and nine local Democratic clubs.

She reported raising more than $160,000 for the campaign through the end of the last pre-election reporting period Oct. 18. She will succeed Judge Michael Nash, who strongly backed her for the seat.

Lewis told the MetNews yesterday that she was “at a loss” to explain the result, but that getting the only “Exceptionally Well Qualified” rating given by the County Bar’s evaluating committee “helped…tremendously.” She said she has spent the last several months going to public meetings and events explaining that she’s been doing the work of a judge for 17 years, and that voters “were very favorably impressed.”

People who attend those type of events “talk to other people,” she opined.

Mathai, 54, is a 15-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office and was designated on the ballot as a “Gang Homicide Prosecutor.” He reported raising nearly $484,000 for the campaign.

Griego, who was listed on the ballot as a “Criminal Gang Prosecutor,” easily overcame Stein’s endorsement by the Times and apparent spending advantage. Griego reported raising about $150,000, while Stein reported receiving about twice that amount.

Deputy City Attorney

The winning candidate, a deputy city attorney since 1994, received a significant boost when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that Stein’s primary ballot designation of “Gang Homicide Attorney” was misleading because it created an appearance that the veteran criminal defense attorney was actually a prosecutor. Stein was forced to run with the more generic label “Trial Attorney.”

Griego will succeed Judge Rex Heeseman, who retired from the court Aug. 25.

Stein, who did not return a MetNews phone call, alluded to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell’s ruling in a Facebook post yesterday, which read:

“Thank you to everyone.....we did not win but two years from now we will be prepared to do a successful run if we choose to do so. This was a learning process, in which Judicial intervention and politics frustrated our goal. Next time if there is one, we will be ready for the political chicanery and Judicial Activism.”

Justices Retained

In other news, all of the justices and nominees facing an up-or-down vote for the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal prevailed by double-digit margins.  

Supreme Court Kathryn M. Werdegar received a 72 percent affirmative vote, entitling her to a new 12-year term. Justice Goodwin H. Liu received 67 percent approval, enabling him to complete the 12-year term for which Justice Carlos Moreno was retained four years ago but retired two months into.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s nominee to succeed Justice Marvin Baxter, Stanford Law School’s Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, won a 67 percent “Yes” vote and will take office for a full term beginning Jan. 5.

Court of Appeal justices and nominees won by similar or greater margins. All of them received between 64 and 79 percent of the vote, except for two justices in the Fifth District, Gene M. Gomes and Rosendo Peña Jr., who received 60 and 55 percent approval, respectively.

The other justices in that district—Steven J. Kane, Dennis A. Cornell, and Donald R. Franson Jr.—received between 67 and 70 percent of the vote.


Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company