Thursday, May 26, 2016
Election Challenger Portrays Judge Solorzano as Atheist
Jurist Says, ‘I Believe in God’; Cooley Calls for State Bar Discipline of Candidate Warren
By ROGER M. GRACE
The deputy public defender who has mounted an election challenge to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano has evoked controversy by alleging in a robocall message that she, unlike the incumbent, acknowledges the existence of God.
The judge, responding to an inquiry by the MetNews, advised that she is a practicing Catholic, and said:
“I believe in God.”
A recording of Tami Warren’s telephonic campaign pitch and a transcript of it has been making the email rounds.
Former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who has endorsed Solorzano, charged late Tuesday that the judge’s election opponent has shown herself to be “unethical” and that her campaign conduct “should be referred to the State Bar” for disciplinary action.
In the robocall message, aimed at Republicans, Warren, a Democrat, says:
“Hi, this is Tami Warren, candidate for L.A. County Superior Court judge, calling to ask for your vote.
“Unlike my opponent, who has been endorsed by the Democratic Party, I believe in conservative values, God, and the importance of protecting our constitutional rights.
“I’m a former law clerk for the District Attorney’s Office and now violent crimes counsel. I understand the importance of being tough on crime. As a victim of violent crime myself, you have my pledge to protect the people of L.A. County.
“Please join conservative leadership, military, and law enforcement personnel in voting for Tami Warren for Superior Court judge, Seat 165 on your ballot.
“Paid for by Warren for Judge 2016.”
Responding by email to a request for comment, Solorzano proclaimed her belief in God, and related:
“I was baptized Catholic and I continue to practice my faith at St. Victor’s Catholic Church in West Hollywood. I equally respect many other expressions of faith in God and I do not believe that the Catholic church is the only way. I do not agree with all Catholic dogma.”
“…I definitely do not believe that my belief in God or my religious practices are any more enlightened than that of another citizen.”
Solorzano went on to say of Warren’s audio spiel:
“I do not know what she means by conservative values, but she is definitely stating that I do not have them—how would she know? That is a problem with her conduct—misleading.
“I believe in the importance of protecting our constitutional rights. The key word in that sentence for me is importance. She has tried 2 jury trials before me. Anyone who has, will tell you that I do a very thorough voir dire wherein I emphasize the importance of upholding our constitutional rights—the rights of all citizens, including the defendant.”
Warren did not respond to an emailed request that she state the factual predicates of her assertions.
Canons of Ethics
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Berger—a candidate for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat who works in the Airport Courthouse where Solorzano sits and has appeared before her—remarked:
“I believe Ms. Warren’s robocall violates California Code of Judicial Ethics Canon 5B(1)(b) and requires reporting to the State Bar, as well as remedial action pursuant to Canon 5B(2).”
Canon 5B(1)(b)—applicable to attorneys running for a judgeship, pursuant to State Bar Rule 1-700—mandates that a judicial candidate not “knowingly, or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent…any…fact concerning himself or herself or his or her opponent or other applicants.”
Canon 5(B)(2) directs that “[a] candidate shall take appropriate corrective action if the candidate learns of any misrepresentations made in his or her campaign statements or materials.”
Berger pointed out that Warren portrays Solorzano negatively as having been “endorsed by the Democratic Party” while Warrern’s own Facebook page includes an April 12 posting by her, saying:
“Tonight I attended the Los Angeles Democratic Party Endorsement event…Ultimately, I didn’t [sic] receive the endorsement, however, ONE person thought I was the better candidate. I’m profoundly encouraged.”
Attorney Brent Braun, a former chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee, yesterday asserted that Warren’s robocall “demonstrates a lack of sound judgment.”
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge, who declined to be identified, characterized the message as “a new low.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock commented:
“Whether this constitutes a violation of the ethics rules should be left for the State Bar or others to decide. It is clear to me, though, that this is another example of a “win-at-all-costs” mentality which demonstrates an utter lack of integrity on Ms. Warren’s part. Fortunately, I have very little doubt that the voters will overwhelmingly re-elect Judge Solorzano in a landslide, and that perhaps then, Ms. Warren will realize the folly of her actions.”
Deputy Public Defender Nan Whitfield—a friend and supporter of Solorzano—provided this reaction:
“The implication that Judge Solorzano does not believe in God is a blatant untruth. As am I, Judge Solorzano is steeped in the practice of the Roman Catholic faith. Ms. Warren’s publicly expressed alignment with ‘conservative’ leadership, along with her proclamation to be ‘tough on crime’, is in direct and stark contradiction with what I had previously believed were her views regarding the criminal justice system. In any event, her decision to pander to the conservative slate in an effort to garner votes based upon potential deception, by way of this robocall, serves to underscore my initial opinion of her inability to be an effective bench officer. I stand by that assessment.”
In light of Warren’s allegation, Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Paul Arthur Turner stated:
“Prior to today, I had made no endorsement in this race. I am now proud to endorse Judge Solorzano. Her maturity, stability, integrity and experience clearly warrant her retention.”
Fred Huebscher, a political consultant who is not involved in the campaign, said Warren’s robocall was “just a waste of money and will have zero impact on the race.”
“I would also think that Judge Solorzano may be seriously considering bringing Ms. Warren up on charges before the State Bar since her message is clearly misleading if not untrue. However, in the scheme of the campaign, this message will not change the result one iota, Judge Solorzano will prevail by a healthy margin. It’s just foolishness to push the boundaries when one’s chances of winning are two: slim and none.”
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company