Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 156
AROL ElSWICK IS NOT A MODEL JUDGE. That’s reflected by the public admonishment of her by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2018.
The commission’s action stemmed partly from a sentencing maneuver “which conveyed the appearance that the judge was circumventing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s early release program.” We assume the conduct has not been repeated, and may be dismissed as history. What is of concern is that, despite the 2018 chastisement, she reportedly persists in violating Canon 3B(4) of the Code of Judicial Ethics which requires judges to be “patient, dignified, and courteous” in conducting court proceedings. Elswick tends to be acerbic.
If a candidate with the right temperament, who was knowledgeable of the law, opposed her at the polls, the challenge might be meritorious. But Elswick’s election rival is former Carson Mayor Albert Robles.
Although it appears that Elswick is, on the bench, unpleasant and lacking in humility, she is not known to be dishonorable. Robles is.
N HIS CAMPAIGNS FOR THE Carson City Council and for mayor, he committed various violations of law, including failing to report thousands of dollars in donations and keeping secret from voters the identity of his campaign donors by not filing the required reports until long after the elections. In 2016, he entered into a settlement with the Fair Political Practices Commission by agreeing to pay $12,000, a fraction of what was sought.
He beat off a prosecution by the District Attorney’s Office for alleged violations of the Political Reform Act; that office was never able to establish that Robles, who spent nights, alternatively, in more than one residence did not actually reside in Carson, a requisite for holding office there; and two separate sexual harassment actions against him were dropped.
But he lost in the trial court when then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey sued in quo warranto to oust him from his membership on the Water Replenishment District Board of Directors, an office that was incompatible with that of mayor of Carson, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. Meanwhile, he was receiving, according to reports, about $40,000 a year for sitting on the water board—unlawfully—plus roughly $7,000 a year in a car allowance, along with other benefits.
After Lacey sued Robles, he retaliated with a frivolous cross complaint against her and a deputy in her office. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry A. Green granted the cross-defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and on Nov. 28, 2016, ordered Robles to pay their attorney fees in the amount $17,000. He hasn’t paid. Another thing Elswick isn’t, and Robles is, is a deadbeat.
LSWiCK HAS BEEN ON THE BENCH since 1997 when then-Gov. Pete Wilson placed her on the Los Angeles Municipal Court. She knows the law and court procedure. Robles has spent his time as a local politician. His law practice does not appear to have been extensive.
While Elswick does utter remarks she shouldn’t, she would surely have been removed from the bench by now if she had ever launched into a profane diatribe resembling that which Robles directed at this newspaper in an email when he took exception to a recitation of his background in a news story.
Not to be overlooked is that on Friday, March 4, he informed the METNEWS that he had decided not to go through with his challenge. Elswick, so advised when a comment was sought from her on the development (as Robles did or should have foreseen), was no doubt relieved—much relieved. An election challenge takes its toll on a judge emotionally, and often financially.
Then on Monday, Robles filed his nominating papers, anyway. The burden Elswick had thought was lifted hadn’t been. That, we submit, was sheer cruelty on the part of Robles.
It reminds us of the plot of a television show several years back. American tourists were imprisoned, wrongfully, in a foreign country under military rule. They were told they were released, walked out of the jailhouse, and a soldier then laughed—telling them it was a joke; they weren’t free to go.
Whether Elswick should be on the bench is questionable. As to Robles, there is no question as to his aptitude for judicial service. He is patently unfit.
In light of who her opponent is, we endorse Elswick.
Copyright 2022, Metropolitan News Company