Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, November 3, 2023


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Long-Time Judge Mel Red Recana Won’t Seek Reelection

That Creates Open Seat; Judge Craig Mitchell Decides to Stay in D.A.’s Race, Resulting in Seventh Open Seat;Three More Lawyers—Koyano, Henderson, Lee—File Declarations of Intent to Run for Open Seats


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Veteran Los Angeles Superior Court Mel Red Recana announced he will not be seeking reelection next year and Deputy District Attorney Keith Koyano, who ran unsuccessfully last year for an open seat, yesterday filed a declaration of intent to run for his seat, Office No 115.

Another deputy district attorney, Christmas Brookens, took out a declaration of intent for that office late yesterday but did not file it.

And Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell said yesterday he will stay in the race for Los Angeles County district attorney. He had said earlier he might drop out of that contest and run for reelection as a judge.

Also yesterday, Diamond Bar attorney La Shae Henderson filed a declaration of intent to seek election to Office No. 48, held by Mitchell, and Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee filed a declaration for Office No. 147, now occupied by Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman.

Judge Since 1981

Recana, who practiced law in Manila before moving to California, was admitted to practice here in 1974. He was a deputy district attorney at the time then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Recana to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1981.

(The state constitutional requirement for that office was five years of State Bar membership.)

Recana was presiding judge of the court in 1996-97 and in 1999, was chair of the Los Angeles County Municipal Court Judges’ Association and president of the California Asian Judges Association.

He was elevated to the Superior Court in 2000 as the result of trial court unification.

The judge said he plans to serve out his term, which ends in January 2025.

Koyano, whose law degree is from Southwestern, was admitted to practice in 2005. Last year, he was in a six-person judicial race, obtaining 17 percent of the vote, coming in third.

Brookens has a law degree from Pepperdine. She became a lawyer in 2005.

Her campaign website lists endorsements of 21 Los Angeles Superior Court judges.

Twenty-four endorsements by judges of that court are reported on Lee’s campaign website. He’s a Loyola Law School graduate and was admitted to practice in 2012.

Mitchell’s Office

Henderson graduated from the Pepperdine School of law in 2003 and was admitted to the State Bar on Dec. 3, 2004. She was suspended from law practice earlier this year—from July 1 to Sept. 5—based on non-compliance with the State Bar’s Client Trust Account Protection Program.

Explaining why he decided not to seek reelection to his judicial post, Mitchell said:

“I am deeply committed to changing the direction of the District Attorney’s Office. Those who perpetrate crimes must be held accountable.  That is not happening now in far too many cases.  Those who deserve leniency must first be found to not pose a danger to the community and must be prepared to make the necessary changes in their lives to warrant a second chance.

“Furthermore, I could not in good conscience ask those who are supporting me with their time and money to continue to do so if I was not ‘all in.’ ” 

Two possible candidates who have taken out but not filed declarations are Texas A&M Law School Associate Dean Luz E. Herrera, who is eying Office No. 137, and Foothill Ranch attorney Osman M. Taher, who is considering running for Office 130.

Potential Open Seats

As of press time yesterday, there were seven known open seats. Additionally, there are three potential open seats: those occupied by Judges Philip L. Soto, Andrea Thompson, and Laura Walton.

Those three have not taken out declarations of intent and did not respond to an inquiry as to whether they plan to do so. However, Walton, on Sept. 29, did take out a petition on which to gather signatures, with three signatures taking $1 off the $2,323.99 filing fee.

Incumbents—and challengers, if any—have until Wednesday to file their declarations of intent. Persons seeking open seats are given an additional five days to file declarations.

Nominating petitions must be filed by Dec. 8, except that if a judge who filed a declaration of intent does not file the nominating papers, there is another five-day extension and any person, except the incumbent, who has been admitted to the State Bar for 10 years or more, may file a declaration of intent and a nominating petition.

As it stands, here is the line-up of candidates who have filed declarations for open seats:

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

Office No. 97 (held by Judge Craig Mitchell): La Shae Henderson.

Office No. 98 (held by Judge Malcolm Mackey): Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila.

Office No. 115 (held by Judge Mel Red Recana): Deputy District Attorney Keith Koyano.

Office No. 130 (held by Judge Brian C. Yep): attorney Christopher Darden.

Office No. 135 (held by Judge Cary Nishimoto): attorney Mohammad Ali Fakhreddine.

Office No. 137 (held by Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman): Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee.


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