Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, November 27, 2019


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Man Who Changed First Name to ‘Judge’ Enters Contest

Deputy District Attorney Emily Cole Vows Court Action Against ‘Judge Mike Cummins,’Rival Candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court Post; Three Others Pick Races


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Emily Cole will face competition in her quest for election to Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 76 from a semi-retired attorney who had his first name changed to “Judge”—something she said she will challenge in court.

Judge Mike Cummins was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson to the Stanislaus Municipal Court in 1994, and became a judge of the Superior Court in 1998 through unification. He took a leave of absence in 2006 to run for the post of district attorney of Stanislaus County, lost, returned to the bench briefly, then resigned.

Last year he ran unsuccessfully for district attorney of San Luis Obispo County, where he now resides.

2018 Loss

He went to court in 2017 to add “Judge” as his first name. Cummins ran last year, unsuccessfully, for the post of district attorney of San Luis Obispo County.

His chosen ballot designation is “Retired Judge.” Although that dispels the impression that he is an incumbent, it appears to violate §20716 of the Code of Regulations which says:

“A candidate may not use the word ‘retired’ in his or her ballot designation if that  candidate possesses another more recent, intervening principal profession, vocation, or  occupation.”

Cummins has, since leaving the bench in 2006, practiced law.

Cole Comments

Cole said yesterday she will challenge both the use of “Judge” as her opponent’s first name and his chosen ballot designation of “Retired Judge,” commenting:

“What he is doing is perpetrating a fraud on the voters of Los Angeles County. I believe that the election law statues were drafted to prevent just this sort of misleading name and designation.”

She noted that he has said that he left the bench because he “didn’t fit the mold for a judge.” Cole remarked:

“Mr. Cummins has no ties to this County, and according to him, doesn’t make a good judge.”

Cummins could not be reached for comment.

Appellate Court Precedent

Although a challenge to a candidate’s use of his name on the ballot would be unusual, courts have held that the right to change one’s name is not absolute. In 1984, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying a change-of-name petition filed by a man who wanted to be known as “III,” declaring:

“While it has been said that the trial court may properly deny the application if the name was adopted to defraud, [or] intentionally confuse…, it is well settled that each case must be decided on its own facts, and that in adjudicating the issue additional reasons may also be considered.”

The Court of Appeal for this district in 1976 said that the change-of-name statute “does not supplant the common law rule that a person may, without formal action, adopt any name he or she chooses…so long as the name is not adopted to defraud or intentionally confuse.”

Kim Enters Race

In other developments yesterday:

Deputy District Attorney Lana Soon Kim filed nominating papers for Office No. 141. The only other person who has pulled papers for that race is private practitioner Timothy D. Reuben, who has also taken out nominating papers for four other offices, creating a prospect that Kim will be unopposed, as Deputy District Attorney Shannon Cooley was.

Klint James McKay entered the race for Office No. 80, joining Deputy District Attorneys David Berger and Nick C. Rini. His chosen ballot designation is “Administrative Law Judge.”

McKay does hold such a post, in Sacramento. However Elections Code § 13107 provides:

“If the candidate performs quasi-judicial functions for a governmental agency, the full name of the agency shall be included.”

He works for the California Department of Social Services.

McKay last year challenged an incumbent, explaining that he had to target a sitting judge because there might not be an open seat. Ten judges who were up for election had made known that they weren’t running.

The challenger withdrew.

This year, he attempted to take out nominating papers for an office other than the one for which he had filed a declaration of intent.

David D. Diamond, a criminal defense lawyer who ran unsuccessfully last year for a judgeship, has joined the race for Office No. 162. Also seeking that seat is civil rights attorney Caree Annette Harper.

Diamond last year was barred by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel from using his part-time post  in Burbank of “Police Commissioner” as part of his ballot designation.

Nominating papers are due Dec. 6. The primary will be held March 3.


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