Monday, June 6, 2016
Summary of Recommendations in Superior Court Races
Office No. 11
Steven P. Schreiner has been a deputy district attorney for 29 years, handling a highly impressive number of felony prosecutions before juries—219—including 81 murder trials.
In light of his knowledge, his work ethic, and his maturity, he is clearly the best choice in this race.
We do note, however, that we discern high potential on the part of Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim.
With four contestants in this race, the political realities are that the only woman running, Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta, will be in a November run-off, most likely pitted against Schreiner. In light of her pushiness and duplicity, we regard her as unfit for judicial office.
Archuleta, at the outset of the campaign, bagged numerous endorsements. Her campaign conduct has resulted in the withdrawals of endorsements by immediate past District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Mexican American Bar Association, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Chris Frisco.
Private practitioner Jonathan Malek, at 36, does not presently possess credentials for a judgeship but, in light of his admirable qualities, might well do so in the years ahead.
Office No. 42
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Cyndy Zuzga has two worthy opponents: Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves and Woodland Hills attorney Michael P. Ribons. But it is Zuzga who has a track record as a jurist. She has been a bench officer for the past 10 years.
The fact of that service, taken alone, does not compel the conclusion that she is the worthiest of the candidates. Such a conclusion is, however, unavoidable, when it is taken into account that since 2009, when annual performance evaluations of commissioners began, no judge rating her has pointed to a single area where she needs improvement, and each judge has lauded her for her legal knowledge and fairness.
A fourth candidate in the race, Alicia Molina, is an immigration attorney—posing on the ballot as a “Domestic Violence Attorney”—who has handled only three trials in the Superior Court, all nonjury. Moreover, she lacks the temperament, objectivity and judgment expected of a jurist.
James A. Kaddo
Office No. 60
This race does not warrant extended discussion. Stepan W. Baghdassarian, a wine and liquor wholesaler who hasn’t practiced law in more than a decade, is seeking to unseat Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Kaddo, who has been a judge for a quarter of a century.
Baghdassarian points to no flaw in the incumbent’s performance.
The challenge is outlandish.
Susan Jung Townsend
Office No. 84
Deputy District Attorney Susan Jung Townsend is the best in a field of four worthy contenders.
Poised, intelligent, and skilled in communicating her thoughts with precision, we believe she would excel as a judge of the Superior Court. We discern definite potential on her part for higher judicial office.
Private practitioner Aaron J. Weissman, in the 1990s, gained judicial experience by serving as a pro tem—not limited in activities as those in the pro tem program today are, but virtually serving as a volunteer “substitute judge” when members of the bench were out for the day.
Deputy District Attorneys Javier Perez, imbued by his parents with a strong work ethic, is industrious and able.
Deputy District Attorney Hubert Yun also is competent, but is so committed to his family that he is unwilling to take work home with him, signaling that he would have insufficient commitment to a role as a judge.
Office No. 120
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ray Santana has drawn a challenge from attorney Eric O. Ibisi. Ibisi is a candidate who has been hiding in the shadows. He has pointed to no flaw in Santana’s performance, from which it may reasonable be inferred that he is unable to do so.
Ibisi is seemingly running as a lark.
David A. Berger
Office No. 158
Composed, articulate, and knowledgeable, Deputy District Attorney David A. Berger would run a court in a steady and effective manner. He has a quick mind, and would render reasoned decisions without long pondering. At 59, with 20 years’ experience as a prosecutor, he would not flounder.
Deputy Attorney General Kim L. Nguyen might well become suited to judicial office in years ahead. She is intelligent but, at 39, is relatively inexperienced. She has never handled a trial.
There are three others in the race—Deputy District Attorney Fred Mesropi, Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney Onica Valle Cole, and private practitioner Naser Khoury—who are, in our view, unworthy of consideration for the post they seek.
Kathryn Ann Solorzano
Office No. 165
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryn Ann Solorzano—a jurist known for a keen commitment to her job, industriousness, and a quest for fairness—has drawn an election challenge from a deputy public defender who, until she took out her declaration of intent, worked in the judge’s courtroom.
Challenger Tami L. Warren won’t say why she has targeted Solorzano. It doesn’t matter.
Solorzano is eminently fit for judicial service; Warren plainly is not.
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