Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Seven ‘Not Qualified’ as LACBA Releases Final Candidate Ratings
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Seven candidates for Los Angeles Superior Court have been rated “Not Qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee.
Of the seven, five—Carol Rose, Helen Kim, Tom Griego, Joan Chrostek, and Carol Najera—are prosecutors, Griego with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the others with the District Attorney’s Office. The two non-prosecutors to draw the lowest possible rating are former state legislator Charles Calderon and criminal defense attorney Andrew Stein.
The ratings, which were made public late Friday, after candidates were individually notified, are a contrast from prior years, in which most open judicial races have been won by prosecutors, most of whom were rated “Qualified” or better by LACBA. Candidates are advised that they can make those reasons public, but only one—Calderon—has done so.
Ratings Previously Reported
The MetNews has previously reported ratings of “Exceptionally Well Qualified” for one candidate—Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis—and “Well Qualified” for seven, including three deputy district attorneys. There were no additional EWQ or WQ rankings in the final release, which came after candidates with initial ratings of “Qualified” or “Not Qualified” were given the chance to appeal.
Two candidates—Deputy District Attorneys Teresa Magno and Andrew Cooper—succeeded in upgrading their ratings from “Not Qualified” to “Qualified.”
Calderon responded to his rating last Friday, rejecting the committee’s claim that his lack of recent courtroom experience establishes a lack of fitness for the bench. He noted that he is endorsed by the court’s presiding judge, by the Alliance of California Judges, and others, and cited his experience as a lawmaker who sat on the Judiciary committees in both houses of the Legislature.
Najera did not participate in the process, drawing an automatic “Not Qualified” under the committee’s rules.
None of the other candidates rated “Not Qualified” responded to MetNews invitations to comment, but Fred Huebscher, a campaign consultant who is working for Kim and Stein, called the process “incredibly flawed.”
Huebscher said “the bar should be ashamed” of the way the committee operates. He declined to elaborate, saying his explanation would be “too long for your article,” but said he is considering doing so in a letter after the election.
A deputy district attorney who received a “Qualified” rating, Steven Schreiner, said a number of his colleagues “thought we were taking it on the chin.” But while Schreiner thought he would be rated “Well Qualified” based on his significant trial experience, he said, the committee treated him well and did not appear to have any animus based on the fact he’s a prosecutor.
Schreiner, who did not appeal his initial ranking, saying it would have been “pointless,” said he came out of his JEEC interview “thinking it went great.”
The complete ratings, with candidate’s ballot designations in parentheses, are as follows:
•Office No. 22, Amy Carter (Sex Crimes Prosecutor) Qualified and Pamala F. Matsumoto (Litigation Attorney) Well Qualified.
•Office No. 48, Calderon (Retired Lawmaker Assembly member) and Rose (Child Molestation Prosecutor) both Not Qualified.
•Office No. 54, Shannon L. Knight (Gang Homicide Prosecutor) and Debra L. Losnick (Superior Court Commissioner), both Well Qualified.
•Office No. 61, B. Otis Felder (Los Angeles Prosecutor) Qualified, Lewis (Superior Court Commissioner) Exceptionally Well Qualified, and Dayan Mathai (Gang Homicide Prosecutor) Well Qualified.
•Office No. 76, Alison Matsumoto Estrada (Government Corruption Prosecutor) Well Qualified and Kim (Criminal Prosecutor) Not Qualified.
•Office No. 87, Griego (Criminal Gang Prosecutor) Not Qualified, Schreiner (Gang Homicide Prosecutor) Qualified, and Stein (Gang Homicide Attorney) Not Qualified.
•Office No. 97, Magno (Gang Murder Prosecutor), and Songhai “Sunny” Armsted (Supervising Criminal Prosecutor), both Qualified.
•Office No. 107, Emma Castro (Superior Court Commissioner) Qualified and Chrostek (Major Narcotics Prosecutor) Not Qualified.
•Office No. 113, Steven Klaif (Superior Court Referee) Well Qualified and Stacy Wiese (Criminal Homicide Prosecutor) Qualified.
•Office No. 117, Najera (Violent Crimes Prosecutor) Not Qualified and James B. Pierce (Judge of the Superior Court) Well Qualified.
•Office No. 138, Marc A. Gibbons (Trial Attorney) and Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong (Gang Homicide Prosecutor), both Qualified.
•Office No. 157, Cooper (Gang Homicide Prosecutor) and Arnold William Mednick (Retired Court Referee), both Qualified.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company