Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Page 1


Five DDAs, One Private Lawyer Eye Superior Court Seats

Veteran Judges Doyle, Pacheco, Marrs Not Seeking Reelection; Prosecutor Takes Out In-Lieu Petitions for Office Held by Judge White-Brown, Who Says She’s Running, but Apparent Challenge Might Be Unintentional


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Three Los Angeles Superior Court judges—John P. Doyle, Randall F. Pacheco, and Bruce Marrs—have decided not to seek reelection this year and their open seats have been staked out by deputy district attorneys.

Taking out petitions on which to gather signatures in lieu of filing fees are prosecutors Abby Baron, who wants to succeed Doyle in Office No. 60; Ryan Dibble and Fernanda Maria Barreto, both seeking Office No. 67, held by Pacheco; and Leslie Gutierrez, aspiring to capture Marrs’s Office No. 90.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Koyano took out in-lieu petitions for Judge Gloria White-Brown’s Office No. 152, but the incumbent said yesterday that she is running for reelection. Koyano did not reply to two emails seeking comment.

In addition, West Hollywood bankruptcy attorney Frank Amador has taken out an in-lieu petition for the office currently held by Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett. President Joseph Biden on Dec. 15 nominated Garnett, a Superior Court judge since 2014, to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Baron, Dibble and Gutierrez already have campaign websites up and running and Dibble has lined up two professional campaign consultants, David Gould and Crystal Litz.

The primary is slated for June 7.

Baron’s Background

Baron, a sex crimes prosecutor, has been with the District Attorney’s Office for 13 years. Admitted to the State Bar on Dec. 3, 2007, she is a graduate of the law school at Pepperdine University.

The candidate boasts the endorsements of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Maria Lucy Armendariz, Nicole C. Bershon, Amy N. Carter, Alfred A. Coletta, Pat Connolly, Shannon K. Cooley, Andrew E. Cooper, Tony Cho, Laura Ellison, Miguel Espinoza, Kelvin D. Filer, Christopher J. Frisco, Danielle R.A. Gibbons, Rene C. Gilbertson, Hector E. Gutierrez, Randolph M. Hammock, Lynne M. Hobbs, Clay H. Jacke II, Kelly M. Kelley, Shannon Knight, Lana S. Kim, John J. Lonergan, Teresa P. Magno, Scott T. Millington, Adan Montalban, Edward B. Moreton Jr., Carol J. Najera, Reginald Neal, Lynn D. Olson, Joseph R. Porras, Sherry Powell, Julian C. Recana, Tammy Chung Ryu, William L. Sadler, Michael Shultz, Thomas R. Sokolov, Emily T. Spear, Kevin Stennis, Teresa Sullivan, Gary Y. Tanaka, Yvette Verastegui, Joel M. Wallenstein, Laura Walton, and Mark E. Windham.

Ryu is quoted on Baron’s website as saying of the candidate that she is able “to encourage and empower victims of traumatic child abuse to testify…with courage and openness,” commenting:

“She possesses this unique character and skill, which I have not seen in any other attorney in my almost twenty years on the bench.”

The backing by Spear, Najera, Gibbons and Powell—all former deputy district attorneys—presages a campaign based on heavy use of social media and avoidance of spending funds on professional consultants. Spear in 2014 masterminded Najera’s successful campaign against an incumbent, won her own seat in 2018 using her formula, also contributing to the victory that year of Gibbons, and meaningfully assisting Powell’s effort in 2020.

Koyano’s Potential Candidacy

Spear, as well as the three former beneficiaries of her campaign prowess, are also backing Koyano—as are several other judges, indicating that there was a vow by him, in seeking their support, not to challenge an incumbent. Candidates have, in the past, taken out papers for an office in error, including one who confused a judge’s office number with another judge’s department number.

Backing Koyano, in addition to Spear, Najera, Gibbons and Powell, are Judges Sam Ohta, Maria L. Armendariz, Neetu S. Badhan-Smith, Terry A. Bork, Tony Cho, Alfred A. Coletta, Pat Connolly, Shannon K. Cooley, Andrew E. Cooper, Alison M. Estrada, Christopher J. Frisco, David B. Gelfound, Danette J. Gomez, Hector E. Gutierrez, Warren Kato, Kelly M. Kelley, Andrew C. Kim, Lana S. Kim, George G. Lomeli, John J. Lonergan, John D. Lord, Teresa P. Magno, Peter J. Mirich, Adan Montalban, Russell L. Moore, Reginald L. Neal, Julian C. Recana, David K. Reinert, Jesse Rodriguez, Tammy Chung Ryu, Michael J. Shultz, Susan J. Townsend, Mary Lou Villar, David Walgren, Laura Walton, John C. Weller, and Michael K. Wendler.

Koyano, a Southwestern Law School graduate, gained his law license on June 1, 2005.

Dibble’s Campaign

Gaining his State Bar membership on Dec. 5, 2005, Dibble has been a deputy district attorney since 2006. His law degree is from USC.

Dibble is endorsed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judges David Berger, Tony Cho, Pat Connolly, Troy Davis, Christopher J. Frisco, Kenneth Fuller, Mark C. Kim, Daniel J. Lowenthal, Judith L. Meyer, Stephen Morgan, Julian Recana, Jesse Rodriguez, Craig Veals, and Scott Yang.

On his campaign website, as of Monday, he touted himself as a “volunteer temporary judge” for the Superior Court, in violation of a court policy against such campaign publicity. The prosecutor said yesterday:

“I intend to keep volunteering with the Temporary Judge Program. While I inquire with the program for their guidance on whether I can describe this volunteer work on my website, I have removed reference to it from the site.”

Baretto, whose website is not yet operational, was admitted to practice Dec. 1, 2005. She graduated from the law school at Loyola.

The potential candidate took out her petitions yesterday; Dibble took out his the day before. 

 Gutierrez’s Effort

 Gutierrez, who was admitted to the State Bar on June 1, 2011, boasts the endorsement of Marrs, the judge she seeks to replace. She also has the support of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Steven Blades, David Brougham, Roy Delgado, Juan Carlos Dominguez, Kenneth Fuller, Stephen Morgan, Javier Perez, Rubiya Nur, Robert Serna, Salvatore Sirna, and Stacy Wiese.

Her campaign website says:

“Leslie immigrated to the United States when she was 22 years old. Her English was limited, and after three years of hard work and perseverance, she was accepted into Southwestern Law School.”

Other Potential Candidates

Campaign committees have registered with the Secretary of State’s Office for several potential Los Angeles Superior Court candidates in addition to Baron, Dibble, Gutierrez, and Koyano. Amador and Barreto have not yet formed committees but there is no requirement to do to until $2,000 has been raised.

Committees have been formed for Deputy District Attorneys Karen Brako, David Chiang, Melissa Hammond, Melissa Lyons, Richard Quinones, and Sharon Ransom; Deputy Public Defenders Holly Hancock (who lost a judicial contest in 2018) and Patrick Earl Hare (who has retained services of Litz); and attorney (and former Administrative Law Judge) James Klint McKay (an unsuccessful candidate in 2000), and Downey practitioner Eric Alfonso Torices.

 Election Schedule

The period for filing declarations of intent to seek election to a judgeship begins Jan. 31 and ends Feb. 9, except that there is a five-day extension where an incumbent has not filed a declaration.

Nominating petitions must be filed between Feb. 14 and March 11, again with a five-day extension where an incumbent filed a declaration of intent but does not file a nominating petition.

Amador would not respond to an inquiry as to whether he will remain in the contest if Garrett files her nominating papers and has not been confirmed by the end of the filing period, declaring:

“Judge Garrett will indeed be confirmed by the Senate.”

Garrett yesterday took out in-lieu petitions.

Departing Judges

Doyle, who received his law degree from Harvard in 1971, was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1996. He ascended to the Superior Court in 2000 through court consolidation.

He said yesterday that he will be retiring from office on I am retiring, the effective date is March 10, noting:

“I am in the process of deciding post-retirement plans.”

Pacheco was appointed to the Superior Court in 2009 by then-Gov, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He earned his 1978 law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

“I’m retiring and won’t be running for re-election,” he said yesterday.

Marrs, a 1976 graduate of California Western School of Law, was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian (now deceased) in 1991.


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