Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, March 5, 2024


Page 8


In My Opinion

District Attorney Election: Almost a Vote for ‘None of the Above’


By David D. Diamond


(The writer is a criminal defense attorney.)


Multiple news outlets and newspapers have made their own recommendations for district attorney, and while watching the debates, many facts, character issues, and important election data seems to have been overlooked. So let us all objectively look at each candidate. (Alphabetical by last name).

Debra Archuleta. Archuleta is a Superior Court judge who was elected in 2016. Previously she was a deputy district attorney for 25 years. She has bounced around in many assignments as Judge, been crucified by supervisors and litigants in her courtroom and overturned by the Court of Appeal for failing to read the case file. In re Ryan M, B311047. The mere fact that she threatened to sue the County over her assignment to an infraction court at the Michael J. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse disqualifies her, immediately. NOT REMOTELY QUALIFIED.

Jeff Chemerinsky. He served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles from 2014 to 2023. He most recently served as chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section. He has extensive experience in prosecuting hard core crimes. He has an open-minded balance between mass incarceration and emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment and addresses systemic inequalities. But he is young and needs more management experience but would not be a bad choice. QUALIFIED.

George Gascón. The incumbent who seems to be everyone’s favorite target while ignoring the decrease in murder and violent crimes under his tenure. Yes, some of hiring practices are rightfully questioned, but the pendulum was so far to the “lock them up and throw away and key and overcharge every defendant” that his intentions were to swing it back to a sense of humanity, and admittedly it went a little too far. But the increase in crime cannot be blamed on one man. Society, COVID, and economic times are always factors in crime increase. QUALIFIED (and could be WELL QUALIFIED depending on who the potential run-off is).

Jonathan Hatami. He has been a deputy district attorney in L.A. since 2006. He claims to work in the “child abuse unit” (no such department) and quite frankly, did an admirable job with the prosecution in the Gabriel Fernandez matter. But that is all we hear about, like a broken record. He has never met a camera he does not like. He lacks the supervisory experience to be a D.A. The fact his wife is in law enforcement should also disqualify him, which may not seem fair, but the incestual relationship between the D.A. and law enforcement would continue under his watch. NOT QUALIFIED.

Nathan Hochman. He serves as a criminal defense attorney who previously served as U.S. assistant attorney general for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He is also a former federal prosecutor in L.A. In 2022, he was the Republican nominee for California attorney general. He likes to run for office, any office, until he wins. He changed his party affiliation from Republican to independent which is nothing more than a campaign stunt and his ethics should be questioned for doing so. He is also the chosen candidate of former D.A. Steve Cooley, who attempts to try and remain relevant in elections. No on Hochman for ethical and moral reasons. NOT QUALIFIED.

Dan Kapelovitz. He is a criminal defense attorney. His firm also represents animal rights activists pro bono when they are charged with crimes related to their working to help animals. He does not have experience as a prosecutor and while he has some good ideas, such as bail reform, this is an uphill race for him. It should be noted that being a criminal defense attorney gives him insight into the other side of the criminal justice system, something some D.A.s often ignore or forget. NOT ENOUGH DATA FOR RATING.

Lloyd Masson. Masson is an experienced prosecutor in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. He is a former deputy city attorney in Los Angeles. There is not enough information about “Bobcat” to make a detailed assessment other than he is not familiar with the workings of the Los Angeles D.A.’s Office. NOT QUALIFIED FOR LOCAL OFFICE.

John McKinney. He has been a deputy district attorney in L.A. since 1998, serving for five years in the Hardcore Gang Division and for more than a decade in the Major Crimes Division. He will be very tough on crime, perhaps too tough. He is very charismatic and an incredibly skilled trial attorney but lacks extensive managerial experience. QUALIFIED, BUT NOT READY.

David Milton. Milton is a retired Superior Court judge. Previously, he was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles and a chief assistant prosecutor in Indianapolis. His comments about right wing conspiracies are surprising and shocking. NOT QUALIFIED.

Craig Mitchell. Mitchell has been a Superior Court judge for 18 years handling felony cases. He was a deputy district attorney for 11 years and a high school teacher for 17 years. Mitchell founded the Skid Row Running Club. He has said some things during the campaign that have forced some to question his impartiality as a judge. He will be superb on mental health issues and understands the balance when evaluating minor crimes. He is a class act and good human being; he just lacks managerial experience. Some of his comments on the campaign trial may necessitate him going to a civil assignment when he returns to the bench. QUALIFIED.

Maria Ramirez. She has been a deputy district attorney since 1990. She currently oversees the Target Crime Division, which includes the Child Abduction, Arson and Explosives, Stalking and Animal Cruelty sections. She served in the Hardcore Gang and Major Narcotics divisions and ran the Bureau of Specialized Operations. Experience wise, Ramirez is in a class of her own. She would do a tremendous job if elected but fund-raising challenges have hindered her campaign. Unfortunately, money should never be the determining factor in an election of this magnitude. MOST QUALIFIED OF ALL CANDIDATES.

Eric Siddall. Siddall is a violent-crimes prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office. He has been with the office for 16 years. He is a hardworking and an honorable individual and may be the D.A. of Los Angeles County one day, just not today. He errored in having the union, where he served, vote for his endorsement by a few board members, without reaching out to each and every member of the office, which ultimately endorsed someone else. QUALIFIED AND ONE DAY WILL BE VERY WELL QUALIFIED.

It should be noted that some ballot designations in this race have been shameful. The Elections Code was poorly modified a few years ago and now only applies to Judges (bolstering government employees and limiting those working in the private sector). Some candidates have made use of the open range ballot designations which calls into question one’s character. Here are the candidates listed ballot designations with corrections had they been forced to follow the Election Code.


Head Deputy D.A. [Head Deputy District Attorney,

County of Los Angeles]


Criminal Defense Attorney



Cold Case Prosecutor

Deputy District Attorney, County of San Bernardino


Supervising District Attorney

Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles


Judge of the Superior Court, [County of Los



Retired Judge [of the Los Angeles Superior Court]


District Attorney, [County of Los Angeles]


Child Abuse Prosecutor

Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles


Criminal Law Attorney


Judge of the Superior Court, County of Los Angeles


Assistant United States Attorney


Violent Crimes Prosecutor

Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles



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