Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, May 9, 2022


Page 8


Patrick Hare

Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 151



ATRICK HARE has been a deputy public defender in Los Angeles County since 1990 and served in a like capacity for five years before that in Orange County. He has handled in excess of 100 cases, with charges ranging from misdemeanors to special-circumstances murders.

Forty-five Los Angeles Superior Court judges have endorsed him, including several who are former deputy district attorneys. He is highly regarded by many within his office.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge offer these insights:

“I have known and dealt with Hare for long enough to be confident that he has the judgment, experience, and work ethic to make a truly great bench officer. Hare is not a wide-eyed ideologue, but rather a level-headed realist who fulfills his duty to his clients by explaining the reality of their situation, and advocating effectively on their behalf to secure an outcome that both sides can live with. That is surely the hallmark of an effective bench officer who can move cases along, rather than one who dogmatically pursues the unattainable at the expense of their credibility and views embroilment as a badge of honor.

“Hare thereby distinguishes his candidacy as a Deputy Public Defender from most of the other DPDs who probably regret not running in 2020 when they had the opportunity to ride the Gascon reform wave. They missed the boat. That ship has well and truly sailed for them. It would be a pity if Hare’s candidacy gets similarly swept away as a result of guilt by association.”

A veteran member of the Public Defender’s Office says:

“Pat will make a fantastic judge. He is even-tempered and smart. I’ve known him for a whole bunch of years and he is very experienced. He understands the role of a judge is to be impartial, not an advocate for either side. He gave a lot of thought before he jumped into the race….our bench can use folks like Pat.”

Another long-time deputy public defender says of Hare:

“I have known him for 28 years and he is a fine judicial candidate. He is smart, his integrity is beyond question, he has a broad range of experience (he has worked felony trials, mental health, as well as dependency and more areas while in the system), and he is universally liked and respected.”

A criminal law specialist terms Hare “a pure soul” with a “great sense of humor” who “understands and can relate to all walks of life,” adding:

“He is able to see all sides of a case. He could provide encouragement and inspiration to the downtrodden from the bench.”

His last three annual office performance evaluations rate him as only having “Met Expectations” and the comments, while attesting to competence, do not point to any special qualities.


AREN A. BRAKO, a deputy district attorney, is an enigma. She’s adored by some, abhorred by others. There are those who see her as ideal for the role of a judge, others as unsuitable. She’s portrayed both as indolent and industrious.

“She’s a bit controversial,” one judge says, adding:

“But, she’s an amazing prosecutor, and if given the chance, I think will rise to the occasion well.”

A criminal defense lawyer, on the other hand, alleges:

“She is called the queen of the island because she does Catalina cases. But she is very lazy, doesn’t read the cases, won’t respond to counsel, and is often impossible to reach or find.”

 Another detractor remarks:

“[S]he is one of the worst judicial candidates I have come across in my tenure as a deputy public defender. She lacks the most essential qualities to be a judge. She is lazy and unprofessional at best, and lacks any charisma or grace.”

Brako prosecuted a murder case with special circumstances in which the deputy P.D. critiquing her represented the accused (who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole). The attorneys interacted over a two-year period. The defendant’s lawyer recounts:

“I called her the day after I got the case, on 10/29/19, provided my email, cell, and an introduction, ‘happy to be working with you’ type of thing. I soon learned that she was all but incommunicado on email (and in general), unless she wanted something.”

The attorney continues:

“For the first six months or more, I would appear at 8:30 a.m. and soon learned that she routinely sauntered in to work, let alone the court, after 9 a.m. She would frequently come to court without any file….On more than one occasion I was in the hallway interviewing or talking to someone and upon seeing me she was surprised and exclaimed ‘Oh, we are on calendar today?! I’ll come by X.’ She would also routinely leave both me and the court in the dark as to her whereabouts or arrival time, showing no respect or consideration for anyone else, ever.”

The disparager adds:

“More substantively, her practice conveyed that the entire endeavor was just a game to her and that she was lazy. She told me that she does not normally seek death in cases since it creates a lot of work and is unlikely to be carried out. As a defense attorney, that would be tantamount to foregoing case preparation since most cases settle. Nonetheless, she said that in our case she might seek death. In this and all other ways, she kept the defense in the dark as much as possible at all times. This can be due to one assuming an extreme mantle of advocacy in one’s role, or it can be a result of failing to do anything or communicate. She was the latter.

“Oral requests for information discovery were routinely ignored. I would put the request in writing, ignored. File it with the court for the court to order it, no response. Often on the day it was to be litigated, she would then cave and seem to provide it, only later did I often find it was a partial compliance and we reverted to the above pattern again, or I would forfeit that portion of it.”

One deputy district attorney, on the other hand, says this:

“Brako was a former Anaheim City Attorney. She came to the office around 1996 and has worked Organized Crime, Special Trials in branch and Hardcore Gangs which she ranks in that order. She has well over 100 felony trials consisting of nearly every type of case known to the office. She has tried 2 death penalty cases including the hate crime murder of Sheryl Green in which the jury sentenced defendant Fajardo to death. She has tried one of the only triple jury cases in the county and has been the go-to special trials prosecutor at the Long Beach branch since she left hardcore.

“Karen has incredible dedication and work ethic. Where many deputies get their Grade 4 and wrap it up, Karen has continued to seek out the most complex trials around and NEVER shies away from work after she got her 4. She is certainly considered a favorite among the Long Beach Police Departments and many LBPD detectives I know consider themselves lucky if they are able to get Karen to take their case.”

Another colleague remarks:

“Karen Brako is very well respected in our office. It’s pretty well known that she has tried over 100 cases including numerous murders. But in addition to being assigned high profile violent crimes, she handles the misdemeanor court in Catalina and the defense likes her alternative creative dispositions for lower level violations like diversion, programs and rehab. I’ve sought her opinions over the years because she’s really well versed in the law. I think she has a good disposition and will be respectful and fair to both sides.”

Addressing criticisms of Brako, that colleague says:

“I think that some of Karen’s coworkers in Long Beach, especially women, are jealous of her. Over the years it has pained me to see women in my office tearing down other women because they were intimidated.

“Karen took on the Catalina assignment when others would not step up. It involved flying by helicopter every week to do misdemeanors while she was prepping and trying murder cases. I’m sure it was fun when it was new, but has since lost it’s allure, yet she keeps her commitment.

“As for her disposition, I think she’s clever and friendly, but she won’t tolerate laziness, dishonesty or a bad attitude. I know she has forged professional relationships and friendships over the years with many DAs, defense attorneys and court personnel.”

Maybe Brako would be an outstanding judge. She has been an attorney since Dec. 16, 1991, and has handled more than 100 felony jury trials, including in excess of 35 murder prosecutions.

Her annual performance evaluations say she “Exceeded Expectations.” They cite her knack at gaining convictions and her rapport with law enforcement officers. Not addressed (nor would it be expected to be) is her relationships with opposing counsel.  

All seem to agree that she is bright and legally knowledgeable. So was Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian, now retired—but, to those he picked on, he was insufferable.

We need judges who are industrious and communicative, and it is not clear if Brako possesses those qualities.

The resources of this newspaper—and we suspect those of others examining the credentials of candidates for the Superior Court in the June 7 primary—are inadequate to assess, in light of vastly conflicting evaluations of Brako, whether she is fit for judicial service. Such a determination could best be made by the Governor’s Office after receiving reports from the various groups providing input, including (primarily) the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.


ICHARD Quiñones has been a lawyer for more than 22 years and a deputy district attorney for the past 20 years-plus. His background includes more than 75 jury trials, including prosecutions for murder and robbery/kidnapping.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge and former deputy district attorney expresses this view:

“Those who have worked with Quinones might say that his name and the term ‘work ethic’ should not appear in the same sentence.”

The judge cautions against being “misled by the glowing” office evaluation report “that secured his Grade IV promotion,” saying that “even the author was shocked that her praise was taken seriously.”

The jurist adds:

“Concurrent with his promotion, Quinones was transferred to Sex Crimes, however, when he learned that leaving early was not permitted in that elite unit, he got himself transferred to a Calendar Deputy position where he could do what he does best—not much, and leave early.”

A deputy district attorney remarks:

“Richard has been a DDA for over 20 years. While he has many years in the office, he doesn’t have as strong a work ethic or dedication that Karen does. He has been in a calendar assignment for many years now and managed a calendar but has not tried cases in a very long time. Years ago, he tried a number of general felonies but hasn’t been in a special unit (except for a matter of a couple weeks) and hasn’t handled complex felonies like many others have (like Karen). I don’t believe he has the temperament to be a judge and to make the tough decisions. I also don’t believe he has acquired the legal knowledge or experience someone with 20 years in the office should have obtained.”

There are those who see Quinoñes in more positive light. A colleague of the candidate says:

“I have known Mr. Quinones as a colleague. He has been in the District Attorney’s office for more than 20 years. He always appears well dressed, prepared, friendly and professional. Even in high stress trial assignments, he seems calm and kind. He has a great temperament for the bench. He takes his role seriously, without being overly aggressive. He has expressed to me how he is open-minded to many criminal justice reforms, while simultaneously being mindful of public safety concerns.”

A criminal defense lawyer says Quinoñes is “soft-spoken, warm, friendly and fair-minded, remarking:

“He is able to see the redeeming value and quality in someone no matter that accusation. What you see is what you get and it’s refreshing.”

There are allegations that personal matters distract Quinoñes from his job responsibilities. He insists:

“I divorced my wife seven years ago. I am focused on my career, raising my children, and currently in a committed and loving relationship.”


HOMAS D. ALLISON is also a candidate for the office. He is a deacon in his church, is president/treasurer/founder of the nonprofit Social Justice Advocacy Project, Inc., is an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne, has served as president of the West Covina Rotary Club, has been a member over the past 10 years on the boards of directors of 13 nonprofit and community groups, and has served as a volunteer temporary judge.

He’s no doubt a fine person but is a virtual unknown within the Los Angeles legal community. Allison boasts the endorsement of not a single judge. Although 46 lawyers are listed on his website as supporters, they are largely from other counties, principally San Bernardino.

We find unimpressive his endorsements from members of the city councils in La Verne, West Covina, Azusa, Pomona, Walnut, and so on, and other nonlawyers who are not in a position to assess his potential for judicial service. For example, a former deputy superintendent at Pomona Unified School District endorses him. So what?

On the League of Women Voters’ “Voter’s Edge” website, candidates may list their top three endorsers. Allison specifies:

“SEIU 721 [public service workers’ union]

“Mayor Tim Sandoval, City of Pomona

“Over 20 local elected officials”

(Under “Featured Endorsements,” Brako declares: “Over 20 Current and Retired Los Angeles County Judges.” Hare trumpets: “Over 40 Current and Retired LA County Judges.” Quiñones did not provide information.)

Allison has demonstrated leadership qualities and—he has a master’s degree and is currently a PhD candidate—intelligence. We do not doubt that he has a place in government service. But, in our view, he ought to be seeking election to a nonpartisan position in local government or to a partisan post at the state level, but not to a judgeship.

All in all, the voters’ most sensible choice in this race, as we see it, is Patrick Hare.


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