Lynn D. Olson
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 12
e endorse Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lynn D. Olson for reelection, albeit begrudgingly, as we did in 2012 when she drew a challenge. She is now being challenged, at least tentatively. Deputy Public Defender Rhonda Haymon has filed a declaration of intent to seek Office No. 12, occupied by Olson, but would not be a full-fledged candidate unless or until she files a nominating petition.
As we see it, Olson should not hold the post that she does. She gained it, in a 2006 election, through trickery—actually, flat out dishonesty.
In that election, Olson ran against Judge Dzintra Janavs, targeting her based on her foreign-sounding name (although she publicly articulated a false reason: that Janavs was a Republican). The candidate declared, under penalty of perjury, that she did not intend to raise more than $1,000, thereby rendering unnecessary the filing by her of financial reports, and engendering complacency in the Janavs camp.
Right at the end of the campaign, when it was assumed she was a sure-loser, Olson suddenly poured large sums of money into her campaign effort, including about $120,000 for endorsements on slate mailers, and defeated the sandbagged incumbent—an able and respected judge who received an immediate reappointment.
lson could not conceivably have gained an appointment to the bench in 2006. Neither then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nor any other California governor in the last 100 years would have bestowed a judgeship on someone so lacking in credentials. Olson was not a legal practitioner then, but was co-proprietor with her husband of a bakery/sandwich shop on Pacific Coast Highway and was known in the Manhattan Beach area, where the business is located, as the “Bagel Lady.” She went on inactive State Bar status on Jan. 1, 1999, and did not reactivate her license until Dec. 29, 2005, preparatory to declaring her candidacy.
We said in 2012, in endorsing Olson over a patently unfit rival:
“We laud the quality of the bagels sold at her shop but decry her blatant dishonesty.”
No longer do we laud the quality of the product purveyed at that shop, which Olson and her husband have sold, but we continue to decry, as we believe the public should, Olson’s underhandedness in 2006.
es, that was 17 years ago, but leopards don’t change their spots and histories of campaign deception do not get “expunged.” However, while Olson’s chicanery should not be forgiven and forgotten, the passage of time is not an irrelevancy. It means that the woman who was the “Bagel Lady” in 2006, out of law practice for six years, is now a seasoned jurist.
In 2012, we observed that Olson, from what we had heard, “is taking her duties seriously and is performing adequately as a judge.” At present, we know of no controversy concerning how she functions as a judge and are aware of favorable reviews.
Indeed, her current challenger, queried as to why she is opposing Olson, does not respond, from which it may be inferred that she is unable to point to shortcomings on the part of the judge—and is running solely based on a personal beef.
Our view is, and has been through the years, that judges are entitled to job security and, if solid reasons are not presented for deposing them at the polls, there’s no need to weigh the respective credentials of the incumbent and the challenger. In 2012, we viewed Olson’s 2006 campaign duplicity as sufficient reason to look at the qualifications—or lack of them—of her challenger, and endorsed Olson.
After 17 years, given Olson’s uncontested proficiency as a judge, is there a need to consider the qualifications of Haymon? Maybe not.
n any event, it is readily apparent that Haymon is unfit to be a judge. She is running because Olson found her in contempt for prattling on after she had been told to be quiet, continuing to allude without warrant to unrelated and irrelevant proceedings, uttering insulting allegations, and, in general, acting like an undisciplined brat.
In the course of a diatribe at a preliminary hearing, she told Olson:
“You want to hold me in contempt because you don’t like me.”
We don’t know if she stamped her foot in uttering that line. The challenger evidently lacks maturity.
She also lacks judgment. After she was found in contempt by Olson, acting as a magistrate, and ordered to pay a $200 fine and a $100 fine, after the contempt adjudication on two counts was affirmed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan, after Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal summarily spurned her writ petition, and after the California Supreme Court denied review, few persons knew of Haymon’s misconduct. A rational person would not want to cause her contempt fines, stemming from uncontrolled, petulant behavior in court, to become widely known. Yet, as a candidate, she cannot expect that fact not to draw wide attention.
aymon is not well-regarded. One Los Angeles Superior Court judge tells us:
“She’s a terrible attorney and would make a horrible judge. She’s not smart and has terrible temperament. I can guarantee that every judge she has appeared before feels this way.”
Noting that Olson found her in contempt, the judge remarks:
“Clearly, she’s running to retaliate against Judge Olson.”
The judge advises that Haymon currently faces an order to show cause re contempt issued by Judge John Lonergan Jr. A hearing, we have learned, is slated for Dec. 8.
Another judge says of Haymon:
“I don’t think she’s fit to be an attorney, let alone a judge.”
She’s “so rude,” the jurist declares.
Haymon does a “disservice” to clients by prolonging matters, the judge comments.
She constantly “arrives late to work”, the judge says, and because she is late and spaces in the parking lot are filled, she often parks where she is not allowed to, “amassing parking tickets.”
The judge observes:
“She was not liked by any of her colleagues.”
One colleague of Haymon advises:
“Ms. Haymon has a mercurial personality, and I would not support her.”
A deputy district attorney says:
“I do not feel that she is fit to be a judge. She is extremely unprofessional and rude. She has no respect for the judicial system: she has been held in contempt by judges, yells at court staff, and falsely accuses other attorneys of misconduct without any basis.”
nother deputy district attorney remarks:
“I have been a prosecutor for 28 years. I work well with defense attorneys and have great respect and admiration in particular for public defenders and alternate public defenders. I have endorsed several of them for judge, and have never regretted doing so. Having said that, it would be a disaster for Ms. Haymon to be a judge.
“She never appeared anywhere on time, and the court, counsel and witnesses were constantly waiting for her. She was aggressive and mean in her interactions with everyone. I have never seen someone be so disrespectful to the bench officers. During cross-examination, she was so aggressive, repeatedly asking irrelevant questions, despite having objections sustained against her, that witnesses would be overwhelmed and vow they were never coming back.”
The prosecutor adds:
“Her interactions with our preliminary hearing deputies was so abusive, that we started separating out the ‘Rhonda Haymon prelims’ and rotating who had to do them, so that no one person would have to suffer her constant abuse. She also wouldn’t convey offers to her clients. I know this because when she went out on her alleged laryngitis leave (laryngitis that seemed to come and go depending on when she wanted to be heard, e.g. when she was angry), other attorneys took over her cases, and they would tell me that the defendant was completely unaware of the offers I had made in cases, and now wanted to accept the offers.
“She was held in contempt by Judge Olson, the judge she is running against. It was upheld on appeal. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Judge Olson. She is inexperienced, but at least she is professional and respectful in her dealings with human beings. She is also willing to read the law given to her and acknowledge when she got something wrong.”
omments on Haymon were solicited from judges, deputy public defenders, and deputy district attorneys. No favorable assessments were received.
One prosecutor’s views appear in today’s “In My Opinion” column.
In sum, Olson should not have been elected to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2006. The dishonesty she displayed in getting elected will forever be relevant to an informed assessment of her character. But she was elected, and given that her performance on the bench has not been defective and her opponent is plainly ill-equipped to serve as a judge, we endorse Olson.
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