Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 9, 2023


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Judge Emily Spear Draws Election Challenge Based on CJP’s Public Admonishment of Her


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emily Theresa Spear—who on Sept. 6 received a public admonishment by the Commission on Judicial Performance—yesterday, on the last day of filing of declarations of intent by judges and challengers, drew an election challenge from a deputy public defender, Kimberly Repecka.

They will vie for Office No. 124.

She is one of two challenged judges. The other is Lynn D. Olson, challenged by Deputy Public Defender Rhonda Antoinette Haymon.

Repecka Comments

Repecka said she targeted Spear based on the discipline imposed on her. She explained:

“I think that voters deserve someone who takes the position of judge seriously. Nobody who has worked with (or against) me can criticize my work ethic. 

“I also have a greater base of experience. 

“Judge Spear was a prosecutor for 11 years. I’ve been a public defender for over five years and, prior to that, I worked in dependency court for more than five years. My first non-volunteer attorney position was representing children who were suspected of being abused or neglected by their parents.

“I eventually began representing the parents and guardians instead, in part because I felt I could make a greater impact with that work.”

Repecka might be disappointed as to the efficacy of the issue of discipline that a judge has incurred. Last year, attorney Albert Robles challenged Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carol Elswick based on her 2018 public admonishment and bagged only 31.5 of the vote.

Public Admonishment

In reprimanding Spear, the commission said:

“Judge Spear engaged in a pattern of behavior that conveyed a persistent disregard and disrespect for her judicial and administrative obligations, for her judicial colleagues, and for her supervising judges and court administration. Judge Spear’s misconduct included numerous unauthorized and undocumented absences and early departures from court; disparaging remarks about a judicial colleague; discourteous conduct toward, and false statements to, her supervising judge; and manipulation of her calendar for personal benefit.”

Relying heavily on social media, Spear won election to an open seat in 2018, defeating Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Armando Durón. Then a deputy district attorney, she pulled 61.85 percent of the votes.

She received her law degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was admitted to practice in 2005.

Repecka’s Background

Repecka—whose law degree is from Southwestern and who was admitted to the State Bar in 2012—says on her LinkedIn page:

“My prior experience includes representing clients in dependency proceedings with the Law Office of Katherine Anderson, a firm of Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers and representing children and nonminor dependents with the Children’s Law Center.

“I’m interested exclusively in nonprofits and public interest work, and occasional volunteering in housing law, benefits work, employment law, immigration law, and civil rights (particularly as related to post conviction relief).”

She has been with the Public Defender’s Office since 2018 after serving for four years as a staff attorney for Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers and for a year before that as a staff attorney at Children’s Law Center of California.

From 2007-08, Repecka was a jails project intern for the ACLU of Southern California.

Surprise Move

In a surprise move, Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee, who had filed a declaration of intent to seek Office No. 137, yesterday filed a declaration for Office No. 130, both open seats.

Lee had been a client of political consultant Crystal M. Litz. However, Litz already had a client in the race for Office No. 130: Christopher Darden, a prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case.

“Crystal Litz is no longer representing me,” Lee said.

Litz’s clients are Deputy District Attorneys Sam Abourched, Christmas Brookens, Steven Yee Mac, and Renee Rose and criminal defense lawyer Michael Berg.

 Other Open-Seat Candidates

Also yesterday, D. Carlos Dammeier, a Rancho Cucamonga attorney, and Deputy Public Defender Ericka J. Wiley filed declarations of intent to seek open seats.

Dammeier filed for Office No. 130, and will compete with Darden and Lee.

Rancho Cucamonga is in San Bernardino County and Fountain Valley, where Darden has his office, is in Orange County.

Wiley will seek Office No. 48. Others in the race are private practitioner Malik C. Burroughs and Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose.

No judge who was up for election and had not announced a decision not to run failed to return a declaration of intent by yesterday’s deadline.

Here is the line-up of candidates as of press time yesterday, including challenged incumbents:

Office No. 12 (held by Judge Lynn D. Olson): Judge Lynn D. Olson, Deputy Public Defender Rhonda Antoinette Haymon.

Office No. 39 (held by Judge Philip L. Soto): criminal defense attorney Michael Berg.

Office No. 48 (held by Judge Margaret Miller Bernal): private practitioner Malik C. Burroughs and Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose, Deputy Public Defender Ericka J. Wiley.

Office No. 93 (held by Judge Malcolm Mackey): Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila, criminal defense attorney Michael Berg.

Office No. 97 (held by Judge Craig Mitchell): Deputy District Attorney Sam Abourched, private practitioner La Shae Henderson.

Office No. 115 (held by Judge Mel Red Recana): Deputy District Attorneys Christmas Brookens and Keith Koyano.

Office No. 124 (held by Judge Emily Theresa Spear): Judge Emily Theresa Spear, Deputy Public Defender Kimberly Repecka.

Office No. 130 (held by Judge Brian C. Yep): Private practitioners D. Carlos Dammeier and Christopher Darden and Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee.

Office No. 135 (held by Judge Cary Nishimoto): attorney Mohammad Ali Fakhreddine, Deputy District Attorneys Georgia Huerta and Steven Yee Mac, and private practitioner Eric Jeffrey Youngquist.

Office No. 137 (held by Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman): law school Associate Dean Luz E. Herrera, Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee.

Monday is the deadline for filing declarations of an intent to seek an open seat. The left-of-center “Defenders of Justice”—which last year ran four candidates for open seats, with one, then Deputy Public Defender Holly L. Hancock, succeeding—has a meeting planned for Sunday in Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park to announce its slate for the March 5 primary.

Deputy Public Defender George A. Turner Jr. has taken out declarations for Offices 39 and 93 but did not file either declaration on Friday. He is believed to be a part of the Defenders of Justice but has not responded to an inquiry as to whether that is so.

Berg has filed a declaration for both Offices 39 and 93 when Turner took out declarations for those seats, creating the impression that Turner might be seeking to thwart Berg’s campaign effort based on animosity. However, Berg said yesterday:

“I don’t believe I have ever met Mr. Turner.”


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