Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 29, 2023


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Judge Archuleta Launches Campaign for District Attorney


By a MetNews Staff Writer



Superior Court judge

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debra Archuleta has embarked on a campaign for the office of Los Angeles County district attorney.

Campaign consultant David Gould said on Friday that he is handling her campaign.

Archuleta, who won a race for an open seat on the court in 2016 and drew no opposition in seeking reelection in 2022, has filed a “candidate intention statement” with the Office of Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder indicating her plan to seek the office of the county’s chief prosecutor and has set-up, in rudimentary form, a place for making online campaign contributions.

She was a deputy district attorney at the time she ran for a judgeship.

Former District Attorney Steve Cooley endorsed her, then withdrew his 2016 endorsement and his $500 campaign contribution was refunded. Also snatching back their endorsements were the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the Mexican American Bar Association, and two Superior Court judges.

Cooley’s Reason

Cooley did not publicly state why he withdrew his support of Archuleta but disclosed the reason on Friday, saying:

 “Her supervisor in Major Frauds (now known as White Collar Crime) made a truthful factual statement about Archuleta, who was then a candidate for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Archuleta filed a grievance against the supervisor that was flat-out false.

“For me it was her lack of candor to achieve a personal objective. That goes to the heart of one’s integrity.

“If a person has integrity, nothing else matters. If a person does not have integrity, nothing else matters.”

The former district attorney, now a lawyer/consultant, said he was taken aback by her misleading ballot designation but that her grievance was “a tipping point” for him. 

‘Violent Crimes Prosecutor’

The ballot designation, both in the primary and in the run-off with Deputy District Attorney Steve Schreiner, was “Violent Crimes Prosecutor.” That drew criticism because she had, for more than a year, been assigned to the White Collar Crimes Division, handling no violent crimes cases.

Archuleta had, however, held on to a single wife-beating case which had ended with a hung jury in December 2014. Some colleagues of hers said in 2016 that the case should have been resolved by then.

Nonetheless, her ballot designation withstood a challenge in two writ proceeding instituted by Schreiner, first during the primary and then in the race in the general election.

Archuleta’s designation was cited by state Sen. Ben Allen in 2017 in calling for passage of Senate Bill 235, which he carried, changing the rules for ballot designations in judicial races. After it was enacted into law, he noted:

“The new law will require publicly employed attorneys to use their official job title or one of four straightforward ballot designations when seeking election to the bench.”

Suit Against Court

In 2020, Archuleta was unhappy with her assignment and threatened to sue the Superior Court for not accommodating a medical condition.

On Feb. 11, 2020, a court spokesperson advised:

“Judge Debra Archuleta is currently assigned to an infraction court at the Michael J. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse. She is absent for medical reasons and is not performing judicial duties.”

It was authoritatively confirmed the following day that there was “a potential for litigation.”

The spokesperson said on March 20, 2020, that Archuleta had been reassigned to the Dependency Court. Stay-at-home orders had just gone into effect in light of the pandemic.

 “As a judge with no prior experience in Dependency, Judge Archuleta is receiving training in Dependency law and working remotely on out-of-court Dependency matters that will help the Court when we resume operations on June 22,” the court’s representative noted.

On June 5 of that year, the spokesperson said: “Judge Archuleta has been assigned to Edelman Children’s Court,” and on June 8 related: “Judge Archuleta has not brought a lawsuit.”

Medical Condition

The nature of Archuleta’s medical condition has not been made public but the state of her health is bound to become a campaign issue if she does file nominating papers. Also apt to be bared is her difficulty in getting along with colleagues, as well as the frequency with which affidavits of prejudice are filed against her.

Archuleta received her law degree from Western State University in 1990 and became a deputy district attorney upon passing the State Bar exam.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys and various law enforcement groups are sponsoring a candidate forum to be held in the City of Industry. According to a press release, the following aspirants are “expected” to participate: Archuleta, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell, retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Milton, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Nathan Hochman, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Chemerinsky of the Central District of California, and Deputy District Attorneys Jonathan Hatami, John McKinney, Maria Ramirez, and Eric Siddall.

Absent from the list is District Attorney George Gascón.


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