Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, February 10, 2022


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LASC Judges Elswick, Gelfound Draw Election Challenges


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Elswick yesterday drew an election challenge from Albert Robles, a former mayor of Carson and unsuccessful candidate in 2008 for district attorney, saying he will seek to unseat the judge in the June 7 primary on the basis of a public admonishment she incurred in 2018, and Judge David B. Gelfound was hit with an end-of-the-day challenge by Deputy Public Defender Lloyd E. Handler.

Robles filed a declaration of intent to run for Office No. 156 and Handler targeted Office No. 116.

Yesterday was the last day for incumbents and challengers to file. Contestants for open seats have until Monday to sign up for contests, of which there are six.

Already facing one challenge was Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett. She might have a second challenge.

Garnett has been nominated for a post on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. West Hollywood bankruptcy attorney Frank Amador on Feb. 3 filed a declaration for her Office No. 3, pinning his hopes on Garnett being confirmed by the Senate before the end of the period for filing the nominating papers.

Tim Reuben, who was the highest-spending Superior Court candidate two years ago but lost, filed a declaration for Garnett’s office, as well as Office No. 141, which presently belongs to Judge James Kaddo, 88.

A San Fernando Valley attorney, Naser Khoury, had announced he would challenge Kaddo, but wound up filing a declaration for an open seat.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gloria L. White-Brown will possibly be challenged. Long Beach Assistant City Prosecutor Randall Charles Fudge filed a declaration yesterday for Office No. 152, held by White-Brown, but also filed for Office No. 70, an open seat.

The judge has filed a declaration of intent to run and has said she intends to file nominating papers, then retire before the end of the year. If Fudge does not file nominating papers for her seat, that will give the appointment to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

A candidate may file multiple declarations of intent (each accompanied by a filing fee) but may file nominating papers for only one office.

 Discipline of Elswick

The Commission on Judicial Performance (“CJP”) said in its written decision and order relating to Elswick:

“Judge Elswick has engaged in numerous incidents of misconduct over a three-year period. In the commission’s view, the judge’s misconduct involving abuse of authority and disregard of the defendants’ fundamental rights, resulting in deprivation of liberty, is particularly serious.”

Robles said that the Judicial Council (the judiciary’s policy-making body that has no connection disciplinary matters) “thoroughly investigated” the judge, reviewed transcripts of proceedings before her, and afforded her and her lawyer an opportunity to be heard.

“The Judicial Council determined that her behavior was out of line,” he declared.

That behavior, Robles added, was “most egregious, in my opinion.”

Her misconduct was so serious, he said, that the admonishment was made public. He remarked:

“They cannot remove her short of [her] killing someone.”

The lawyer proceeded to look up the matter on the Internet and corrected himself as to the identity of the body that disciplined Elswick.

CJP Summary

In its decision and order, the commission provided this summary:

“Judge Elswick has been a judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2000.  She previously served on the municipal court from 1997 until 2000, and was a court commissioner from 1991 to 1997.

“The commission found that in three separate misdemeanor probation cases, Judge Elswick improperly remanded the defendant and delayed setting a revocation hearing until after the defendant served a predetermined sentence of jail time, which conveyed the appearance that the judge was circumventing the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department’s early release program. In other matters, the judge improperly responded to a peremptory challenge filed pursuant to section 170.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, was discourteous to several criminal defendants, and improperly referenced her personal life when discussing the ability of some defendants to pay fines. The commission concluded that Judge Elswick disregarded the fundamental rights of defendants, abused her authority, conveyed the appearance of bias and prejudgment, and violated the Code of Judicial Ethics….”

Robles’s ethics have been challenged over the years. In 2016, he agreed to pay fines totaling $12,000 for campaign finance law violations.

Robles ran against then-District Attorney Steve Cooley in 2008, criticizing the incumbent for being too aggressive in prosecuting public officials. At the time, the office was prosecuting him for alleged misdemeanors in connection with two campaign mailers.

Cooley won in the June primary, drawing 64.9 percent of the vote, against Robles’s 19.6 percent and then-Deputy District Attorney Steve Ipsen’s 15.5 percent. In October, a jury acquitted Robles on the misdemeanor charges.

Over the years, he has fought off allegations of sexual harassment and of not actually residing in Carson, rendering him unqualified for office there.

On Jan. 29, 2020, Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment removing Robles from the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, pursuant to an action in quo warranto brought by then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Membership on the board, the court held was incompatible with holding office as mayor.

Robles ran for the Board of Supervisors in 2020 and was eliminated in the primary.

He said of the current race:

“I intend to win.”

Robles acknowledged awareness of the Los Angeles Superior Court judges’ political action committee, which has amassed more than $300,000 for use in campaigns of challenged colleagues. He said a “preliminary estimate” of what it will take to win the contest is between $200,000 and $250,000.

“I don’t have that in my pocket,” he acknowledged, but said he intends to raise that sum.

Elswick did not respond to a request for comment.

Filing a declaration yesterday for Office No. 90, an open seat, was Deputy Public Defender Kevin Thomas McGurk.


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