Three Are Recommended for Superior Court Seats
In the primary, we endorsed Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Steve Morgan, David Berger, and Scott Andrew Yang for open seats. Each is now in a run-off. Nothing we have seen since the primary has persuaded us that we erred.
To the contrary, campaign shenanigans of one of the candidates, criminal defense attorney David D. Diamond—whose antics include falsely claiming the endorsement of the Los Angeles Police Department (which makes no endorsements)—bolster our perception that his opponent, Yang, is by far the worthier candidate. The hope we expressed in the primary that Diamond, who evinced poor judgment and trickery in his race two years ago, would someday prove himself worthy of the judgeship he craves has shown that such is just not going to happen; he’s a leopard whose spots are ineradicable.
Los Angeles Superior Court
Office No. 72
With a background both as a prosecutor and defense attorney, Deputy District Attorney Steve Morgan is a balanced candidate with keen perspective and courtroom know-how. He is straight-forward, diligent, and possessed of integrity.
His rival is South Dakota University School of Law Professor Myanna Dellinger. Although she has never tried a case—a factor which should ordinarily render a candidacy for the Superior Court to be discounted—Dellinger’s attributes are exceptional, and her credentials warrant attention. She has drafted opinions for a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge; done research and writing for a U.S. District Court judge for the Central District of California; is a Fulbright scholar; graduated No. 1 in her class at the University of Oregon School of Law; and has written and lectured extensively on legal topics. Principled and a scholar, she, like Morgan, is an estimable contender.
While we do not doubt that the Los Angeles bench would benefit from Dellinger’s presence, we believe that Morgan’s experience is more relevant to the post being sought and that, on balance, he is the candidate with higher potential for noteworthy service.
Los Angeles Superior Court
Office No. 80
Deputy District Attorney David A. Berger is the clear choice for this office. He has more than two decades of courtroom experience, possesses exceptional skills in analysis and communication, and is composed and decisive. Berger knows what he’s doing.
Klint James McCay, a Sacramento-based administrative law judge for the California Department of Social Services, is well-meaning and gentlemanly. But he’s a clueless blunderer, lacking the talents necessary for the office he seeks.
Scott Andrew Yang
Los Angeles Superior Court
Office No. 162
Ideally, Deputy District Attorney Scott Andrew Yang, who has been at his post for 11 years, would have gained a bit more seasoning before seeking a judgeship. Yet, he is a creditable candidate.
Both he and criminal defense lawyer David D. Diamond have the needed temperament for judicial service. The striking difference between them is that Yang is an honorable man; Diamond isn’t.
Two years ago, Diamond tried to get by with the ballot designation of “Attorney/Police Commissioner.” A ballot designation must, by statute, be a “principal” pursuit. Diamond was a member of the Burbank Police Commission, a purely advisory body that met for about two hours, eight-or-so times a year, and for which service there was no compensation. A judge barred the designation. Diamond’s excuse, in retrospect—and he’s always ready with a justification, no matter how flimsy—is that he relied on the advice of two election lawyers. Someone who seeks a bench position ought to be able to decipher a statute (and companion regulation) for himself or herself. Diamond’s explanation for shifting the blame is: “I don’t do election law.”
look, via the “Wayback Machine,” at Diamond’s campaign website in February and March shows this:
It’s true that Diamond was rated “Well Qualified” and Harper was labeled “Not Qualified” by a LACBA committee. Yet, what appeared was deceptive, through omission. There’s no mention of Yang, who also was found to be “Well Qualified.”
Also in the primary, Diamond advertised himself as a “judge Pro Tem.” To do so violated a court policy by which those in the Temporary Judges Program agree to abide: “You may never use the term ‘Judge Pro Tem,’ (or something similar) in any manner whatsoever, be it in a ballot designation, campaign literature (including slate mailers, etc.) or on a campaign website.” What’s more, he was no longer in the program.
n Aug. 3 campaign email from “Diamond for Judge” has a click-through to his campaign website. The page that’s brought up includes a heading reading, “Opponent Profile in the News,” beneath which is a button that says, READ MORE.” If you click on the button, up comes a Jan. 26 article from the METNEWS which tells of civil rights attorney Caree Harper being found in contempt in 2015, taken from the courtroom in handcuffs. The implication of that August email was, of course, that Harper is Diamond’s opponent in the November run-off. In fact, in the March 3 primary, Harper came in third in the race.
If you click on “READ MORE” under the heading, “Election Opponent,” you’ll see a 2015 article from the Pasadena Independent concerning a controversy over a fee allegedly collected by Harper involving her possibly having taken advantage of a client who was not fully competent mentally. Again, the August email implies that Harper was Diamond’s rival in the November election.
Of less significance is that in the body of the email, Diamond is described as “State Bar Certified Legal Specialist.” It’s true that he’s certified as a specialist in criminal law. But that’s not what the email says. The State Bar does not certify anyone as being a “Legal Specialist”—i.e., a specialist in all phases of law.
iamond’s committee has purchased space on some slate mailers. On one, he represents: “Endorsed by LAPD and Judges.” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore advised this newspaper:
“LAPD does not endorse candidates and nor do I.”
“It’s unfortunate when politicians misrepresent and lie in their pursuit of office.”
Diamond’s rationalization is: He has the endorsement of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. That’s a pathetically lame excuse. The league is a union; it’s not the LAPD.
Yang is endorsed by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; he is not so brazen as to claim the support of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. He’s also endorsed by the Burbank Police Officers’ Association (interesting given that Diamond is a former Burbank police commissioner); he does not say he’s backed by the Burbank Police Department.
n the same slate mailer, Diamond is billed as a “20 year attorney/Law Professor.” What this communicates is that he has been both an attorney and law professor for 20 years. It is almost true that he’s been a lawyer for 20 years; he’ll reach that mark on Dec. 1. However, he has not taught for 20 years. It’s only since 2007 that he’s held various part-time teaching jobs. How does he explain the false statement? In response to an inquiry as to whether he has been an educator for 20 years, he emailed:
“That's quite a stretch to create controversy. It says 20-year attorney and it is then separated with a slash followed by the word law professor.”
The slash joins the word “Attorney” and the words “Law Professor”; a period would separate them.
And, at that, Diamond has never been a law professor. He has been, and is, an “adjunct professor”—that is, a person who is not a regular member of the faculty, but teaches typically a single course, generally once-a-week and at night.
The words “law professor” connote a professor at a law school. Diamond instructs undergraduates in Woodbury University’s College of Liberal Arts on criminal law and the courts.
nother slate mailer (they’re tailored to the anticipated interests of the recipients), portrays Diamond as a “Victim’s Advocate.” This seems strange given that he’s a criminal defense lawyer who’s an advocate for the accused victimizer, not the victim. Diamond provides his reasoning:
“I have handled hundreds of restraining order cases, many of which involved victims of domestic violence.”
That one has at least a tinge of plausibility, no more than that.
wo years ago, Diamond claimed the endorsement of Burbank Chief of Police Scott LaChasse—who declared: “I had absolutely no knowledge that he was running for a judgeship, and I have not and will not endorse him.”
Diamond insists that he was under the impression, from an email LaChasse’s secretary sent, that the chief was endorsing his candidacy. Crediting that such was his impression, careful candidates do not list someone as an endorser without an express authorization, in writing, from that person.
In the primary, he accused Harper of having “altered a transcript in court” based on what was supposedly told to him by an unidentified person, with no proof to back it up; declared that he was “very worried about the stability of Ms. Harper”; and released an email from an anonymous person saying of Harper:
“She is a joke and unethical; actually she is unfit for the bench. I have seen her f—k up a case….”
His judgment is questionable.
iamond is, however, a smooth talker.
In 2018 and this year, he persuaded the Los Angeles Times to endorse him.
The Times, in recent years, has been careful in its endorsements. It wasn’t, in our view, in endorsing Diamond.
Particularly troubling is the comment in its Sept. 25 re-endorsement that Diamond is “the better choice over Scott Andrew Yang, a young deputy district attorney who has acknowledged using his middle name on the primary ballot to capitalize on the name recognition of then presidential candidate Andrew Yang.”
It implies trickery on the part of Yang for having used his actual middle name while ignoring repeated instances of outright deception on the part of Diamond.
There is, as we see it, no question as to which is the better choice. We urge the election of Yang.
Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company