Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 3
T IS RARE THAT WE ENDORSE A CHALLENGER in a judicial race. When we’ve done so, it’s been because there was something plenty bad about the incumbent.
Here, we endorse a candidate who is opposing Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett. Yet, no one has pointed to one thing of a negative nature about the judge. But there is no point in reelecting her when it’s a sure bet she won’t be serving another term.
It comes as no surprise that her nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California sailed through the Senate Judicial Committee yesterday by a vote of 17-5, virtually assuring confirmation by the full Senate.
The question is whether the voters are to decide who will assume her seat on Jan. 2, 2023, or whether the governor will make that decision.
One of her two opponents is Frank Amador, an obscure bankruptcy attorney who advertises his cut rates but points to no accomplishments. Were he the only challenger, we would favor Garnett. If she were elected over Amador, her replacement by the governor, upon her resignation from the Superior Court to take office as a federal judge, would, we assume, be someone who was found to be at least “qualified” by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and was also cleared by other groups that undertake a scrutiny of possible appointees. That person would be bound to have credentials superior to Amador’s.
N THE OTHER HAND, Garnett does have another challenger: West Los Angeles attorney Tim Reuben, managing principal of Reuben Raucher & Blum. We cannot imagine that Gov. Gavin Newsom would select anyone worthier of a Superior Court judgeship than Reuben.
In making an endorsement of Reuben this early, we do not act hastily. We examined carefully what he has to offer as a judge. That assessment took place two years ago when he vied with then-Deputy District Attorney (now Judge) Sherry L. Powell for election to a Superior Court open seat. We said at the time:
“All too often, voters reluctantly cast a ballot for a candidate deemed to be the ‘lesser of two evils.’ Here, by contrast, a decision must be made as to who is the better of two superb contenders.
“Both of them, in our view, deserve a spot on the Los Angeles Superior Court. But there is no option of voting for ‘both of the above.’ ”
Although we did endorse Powell, we observed:
“Attorney Timothy D. Reuben, a Harvard law school graduate, has been in practice in Los Angeles County for nearly 40 years and has handled cases in various areas of law. His manner is calm and confident—not confident to the point of arrogance, but in a way that gently conveys his perception that he knows what he’s doing, a perception that is apt to be shared by one listening to him. He makes sense.
“Both candidates would, we discern, handle court proceedings expeditiously, but not in so rushed a manner as to risk avoidable error….
“His business experience in running a firm is a plus.”
Reuben is a known commodity, an accomplished lawyer whose ability to function in a judicial role is unmistakable. A vote for Garnett would be a vote, in essence, for taking a chance on the content of a grab bag.
HAT IF VOTERS WERE NOT to reelect her and the Senate, for some reason, unimaginable now, rejected the nomination? Garnett would serve out the six-year term to which she was elected in 2016 (following her appointment in 2014) and, after her successor took office in January, the governor would be at liberty to appoint her to a vacancy when one arose.
But rejection is not anticipated.
It is possible that she will be confirmed prior to June 7, and if she is, her name will still be on the ballot. With voters paying so little attention to judicial elections, it is probable that Garnett—an incumbent, and, in particular, one who is a woman, with two male competitors—would prevail in the balloting.
Despite doubts that Tim Reuben can win the contest, no matter when Garnett is confirmed, we have no doubt that his election in the race for Superior Court Office No. 3 would be the sensible outcome. We endorse him strongly.
Copyright 2022, Metropolitan News Company