Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, May 12, 2022


Page 8


Keith Koyano

Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 118



EITH KOYANO stands out as the worthiest of six candidates for Office No. 118. He has the broadest experience and attracts high praise from those who have viewed him on the job.

We asked government lawyers who are running for judgeships to provide their last three annual office performance evaluations, and Koyano complied. In those reports, he was given the rating of “Exceeded Expectations (Very Good).”

They include such plaudits as “extremely hardworking and conscientious.” He is said to be “a consummate team player” who “repeatedly goes out of his way to assist his colleagues.”

This observation appears in one report:

“Mr. Koyano is very well liked and respected by his peers, defense bar and bench officers throughout Los Angeles County, They recognize that he is not only a talented DDA but someone who willingly makes himself available to assist others. He exemplifies the meaning of team work by volunteering to handle any assignment in the division regardless of the work involved.”

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley tells us:

“Keith Koyano has all it takes to be a solid superior court judge—experience, judgment, and temperament.”

One judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court judge remarks:

“I think very highly of Keith Koyano. He was a hardcore gang prosecutor for many years, and he was my calendar deputy for a time, immediately after the hardcore gang unit was disbanded. I was impressed with his preparation and professionalism. He would make a fine judge.”

Other judges also praise the candidate. One provides this assessment:

“Without question I favor Mr. Koyano. I knew him both professionally and personally when I was in the DA’s Office. His work ethic is strong, he is smart and he has a balanced, low key but firm personality—it will suit him well on the bench.”

Another lauds Koyano as being “humble” and “gracious,” with a “good reputation and much jury trial experience regarding serious matters.”

A member of the court describes him as “an amazing prosecutor, all around great guy, and great judicial temperament.”

He is termed an “excellent lawyer” by a judge who finds him to be “hard working.”

Yet another judge, a former deputy district attorney, declares:

“I personally saw his hard work and dedication. He really cares about his cases and obsesses over doing the right thing in each case he handles. Keith is intelligent and is possessed with a keen mind. I’ve never seen him angry despite having cause to be. His temperament is excellent, always calm and unflappable.” 

On his campaign website, Koyano lists 63 sitting judges who endorse him. Particularly meaningful is that he is also endorsed by former District Attorneys Cooley, Jackie Lacey, and Robert H. Philibosian.

(We note in passing that the current district attorney, George Gascón, has made no endorsements in judicial races. That is no doubt a reflection both on his lack of knowledge as to the caliber of the work done by deputies in his office and a disinclination by candidates even to seek the backing by that highly controversial office-holder.)

Koyano has handled 74 trials.



ELISSA HAMMOND is a bright prosecutor who has been on part-time status for the past few years in order to care for her child.

She has gathered 52 endorsements by judges—though some express disappointment that she did not disclose to them that she does not work full-time.

One judge comments:

“I knew her to be diligent and ethical when I worked with her many years ago at the Airport Courthouse.”

Another says:

“She seems like a very nice person, but I have never heard anything good about her performance in court.”

A deputy district attorney provides this negative appraisal of her work:

“Melissa Hammond is an incredibly lazy deputy. This is universally known by her colleagues, the support staff, and her supervisors. I have seen it firsthand. I have been told this by many of her coworkers.

“She works part time and when she covers a court she does more harm than help. She will make notes in the files that a defense attorney has requested discovery and do nothing to obtain that discovery. She seeks to continue anything she can. She is completely unprepared. She does no follow through work on the cases she handles.

“When she covers prelim Court she has been known either to try and continue the cases or even has announced unable to proceed on them and have them refiled when it was not necessary. She does this to avoid work. The other day she was tasked by a supervisor to author a written response to a motion in a calendar court and she submitted no written response and she told the court she had no opposition. That was not the position she was told to take. Nor was it the one she should have taken.”

In her two latest performance evaluations, she was given the overall lukewarm rating of “Met Expectations (Competent).”

However, in each report (July 22, 2021 and Nov. 21, 2020), it is said:

“Ms. Hammond is an experienced deputy, who is able to spot legal and factual issues, confident in conducting a hearing, and effective with her interactions with witnesses, defense counsel, court staff and the judge.”

A 2016 report recommending that her Grade III promotion be made permanent says:

“Ms. Hammond is a consummate professional. She never hesitates to assume extra duties to help her colleagues. Ms. Hammond has a positive attitude and is well liked and respected by all of the Norwalk DDAs, members of law enforcement and the judiciary. She is utterly reliable and dependable.

“Ms. Hammond is an excellent attorney and a pleasure to supervise.”

In 2014 and 2015, her rating was “Met Expectations (Competent).”

To her credit, Hammond had the gumption to wage a writ challenge to the ballot designation of a rival candidate who has retired as a deputy district attorney but maintains an active status with the State Bar. Under the Code of Regulations, though she’s not practicing, that candidate is still a member of the legal profession and may use as her ballot “Attorney” or some other such description. But because she does have a current profession she may not, under a regulation, use a job title from the previous calendar year (as person who is out of work may, rather than having a blank under the name).

Hammond understood the law. A Superior Court judge in the Writs Department, James Chalfant, either did not have such comprehension, or simply refused to apply the unambiguous provisions of the Code of Regulations. He allowed the candidate to be listed as a “Deputy District Attorney”—which is a falsehood.

That candidate is Gloria Sullivan—who is running as “Gloria Huerta,” her married name but one she does not commonly use, yet one that gives her the election advantage of a Hispanic surname.

In this six-person race, we see Koyano as by far the best choice, and endorse him. Should Hammond wind up in a run-off with any of the other contestants, we would urge her election.

We continue to have misgivings as to the capacity of Administrative Law Judge Klint McKay who ran unsuccessfully two years ago. Sullivan/Huerta is sly and duplicitous—not the sort of person who ought to be a judge. We discern no merit in the candidacies of attorney Carolyn Park or Deputy County Counsel Shan K. Thever (running as “S. (Shawn) Thever”).


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