Friday, September 16, 2016
Kevin Brazile, Michael Vicencia in Battle for APJ as Nominations Close
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Two 13-year veterans of the Los Angeles Superior Court are battling to become assistant presiding judge, as nominations have come to a close.
Judges Kevin Brazile, 58, and Michael Vicencia, 52, were the only ones to submit nominating papers by Wednesday’s deadline. The current assistant presiding judge, Daniel Buckley, is running unopposed for presiding judge, as is the court’s custom.
Buckley and his successor as assistant presiding judge will assume their new positions Jan. 1 and serve two-year terms. Ballots are due to be sent out to all of the court’s judges Sept. 28 and must be returned by Oct. 5.
Brazile and Vicencia were appointed to the court on the same day, Dec. 26, 2002, by then-Gov. Gray Davis. Vicencia was president of the California Judges Association and Brazile vice president in 2009-2010.
Brazile is currently supervising judge of the civil departments downtown, while Vicencia sits in Long Beach and is the South District supervising judge.
County Counsel’s Office
Brazile joined the County Counsel’s Office in 1984 and rose to the position of assistant county counsel in charge of the General Litigation Division, overseeing the defense of police misconduct, employment discrimination and sexual harassment litigation. In 1994 he was awarded the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Civil Attorney of the Year Award.
His undergraduate and law degrees are from UCLA.
He did not respond to MetNews inquiries about his candidacy for assistant presiding judge.
Vicencia was admitted to practice in 1990 and primarily worked in the insurance defense field before he was appointed to the bench. He served as president of the Long Beach Legal Aid Foundation, and said at the time of his appointment that watching judges at work “kind of inspired me [to believe] you can make your profession better and your community better” through judicial service.
The California State University, Fullerton and McGeorge School of Law graduate also said he was encouraged by his family, which has long been involved in public service. His father, Frank Vicencia, who died in 2009, spent 12 years in the California Assembly, and was speaker pro tem for two terms.
Michael Vicencia chaired the Los Angeles Superior Court Legislation Committee and was a member of the Legislative Relations Committee and the Temporary Judge Committee, and served a two-year term on the court’s Executive Committee.
He has also taught in the Center for Judicial Education and Research’s New Judge Orientation program, and was president of the Benjamin Aranda Inn of Court.
He said yesterday that the campaign has been “a lot of fun” so far.
“I’ve been talking about court issues almost since I’ve been on the bench,”, so traveling around the county talking to judges at various courthouses has been a positive experience, he said.
He declined to handicap the race.
“Every judge has to make their own decision,” he commented. “It’s not a hard sell. You have to talk about who you are and what you’re going to do.”
Much of the talk, he said, focuses on judicial elections, a subject he has been involved in as chair of JETPAC, a statewide political action committee formed by CJA to support incumbent judges. He has reminded his colleagues, he explained, “about all of the judges we have helped, not only through JETPAC,” but through his personal efforts at fundraising.
He has also been active in lobbying regarding judicial elections, he said, pointing to legislation that increased the number of signatures needed to challenge an unopposed incumbent as a write-in candidate from 100 to 500. Although the version of the bill that passed was quite different from the one he originally wrote, he said, he was happy about the final result.
“You never want to foreclose democracy,” but the bill strikes a balance in making it more difficult to force a judge onto the ballot without a concrete reason, he said.
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company