Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 7, 2024


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Superior Court Incumbents Fend Off Election Challenges

Judge Olson Wins Handily, Judge Spear Barely Prevails; Prosecutor Gutierrez Wins in Three-Candidate Race


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Two Los Angeles Superior Court judges—Lynn Olson and Emily Spear—drove off election challenges in Tuesday’s primary election and one candidate in the seven contested races for open seats, Deputy District Attorney Leslie Gutierrez, with 57.41 percent, is a clear winner in a three-person contest that included O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden.

Olson attained 66.67 percent of the votes while only 52.63 percent of the ballots were cast for Spear.

One race, between Deputy District Attorneys Christmas Brookens and Keith Koyano, was too close to call, with less than one percentage point separating the candidates.

Partial unofficial returns, as of late yesterday afternoon, appear on Page 3 of today’s issue. Ballots-by-mail postmarked by March 5 and timely received will be counted and some ballots were accepted only provisionally, meaning that an official tally will be delayed, possibly for weeks.

Results are to be certified on March 29.

Candidate Comments

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose, competing with a deputy public defender and a criminal defense lawyer, with 46.58ercent of the vote, said yesterday:

“There are still votes to be counted so I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.”

Deputy Public Defender Kim Repecka, who challenged Spear, attaining 47.37 percent of the votes, had this to say:

“While I think it’s still a little early to call results based on the returns, I am disappointed with where the numbers are currently and at the low participation for judicial races in LA County. 

“But any defense attorney knows that, when you take up any fight worth taking, there’s a very good chance you will lose. It doesn’t mean you were wrong.”

Deputy District Attorney Tracey M. Blount, who is in a run-off with Texas A&M Law School Associate Dean Luz E. Herrera, said:

“I will continue campaigning hard to win in November. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me and will continue to work diligently for everyone’s support and votes in November!”

Attorney Steve Napolitano, in a race with three others, yesterday morning remarked:

“I’m honored and humbled to have received the most votes going into the runoff and I’m thankful for the confidence the voters have in my experience. I also want to congratulate Mr. Lee for making the runoff, as well as recognize Ms. Dixon and Mr. Turner for their efforts.”

By late afternoon, however, Napololitano had 30.18 percent of the vote and Deputy Public Defender George A. Turner Jr. had moved to second place, with 29.22 percent; Deputy District Attorney Jacob Lee had chalked up 28.71 percent, and private practitioner Ronda Dixon trailed with 11.90 percent.

Turner is one of three candidates whose campaign was orchestrated by the Defenders of Justice and financed by left wing organizations. So was the campaign of Deputy Public Defender Ericka J. Wiley who, with 43.44 percent of the votes in a three-way contest, appears headed for a run-off with Rose.

Close Contest

The third member of Defenders of Justice, former Deputy Public Defender La Shae Henderson, is in third place in a race with three contestants. Deputy District Attorney Sharon Ransom, who drew 49.26 percent of the ballots, could move past the 50 percent-plus-one vote mark in the final tally or could be pitted against Deputy District Attorney Sam Abourched in a November run-off—or, conceivably, against Henderson who is not far behind Abourched.

As of press time yesterday, Abourched had 26.49 percent of the votes and Henderson had 24.26 percent.

Preliminary returns indicate there will be a run-off between Deputy District Attorneys Georgia Huerta and Steven Yee Mac.

Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila was elected to a seat without opposition. In Humboldt County, Superior Court Judge Gregory Kreis—who is under investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance in connection with alleged lewd conduct, commission of a battery and other wrongdoing—was ousted by April Van Dyke. Unofficial partial returns show the challenger has more than 60 per cent of the votes.




L.A. Times Endorsements Prove Powerful


news and analysis

Endorsements by the Los Angeles Times proved to be the factor most heavily influencing the results of contests for Los Angeles Superior Court open seats this year, as they did two years ago, with all of the candidates recommended by that newspaper winding up the victor or in a runoff—with one possible exception.

The Times endorsed Deputy District Attorney Christmas Brookens over Deputy District Attorney Keith Koyano and, as of press time yesterday, Koyano was ahead by less than one percentage point.

That newspaper’s endorsement of the county’s controversial district attorney, George Gascón, appears to be the factor that catapulted the incumbent to the top of the list of the dozen contenders, although polls had pointed to the prospect that he might not make it into a run-off. Gascón bagged 22.09 percent of the votes, according to unofficial returns, with former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Nathan Hochman coming in second with 17.66 percent.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Chemerinsky of the Central District of California came in a weak fifth despite having a campaign war chest second in size among the candidates—behind that of Hochman—and the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, as well as bearing a familiar surname. His father is the oft-quoted dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky. The county’s leading newspaper did not have sufficient clout, however, to overcome the power of incumbency and bring victory to Deputy Public Defender Kimberly Repecka who challenged Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emily Spear. That judge recently incurred a public admonishment by the Commission on Judicial Performance based on shirking duties and lying.

However, the endorsement of Repecka did have an impact: she received 47.37 percent of the vote, in unofficial returns, while Deputy Public Defender Rhonda A. Haymon, whose challenge to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lynn Olson was disfavored by the newspaper, drew only 33.33 percent of the  ballots. Repecka’s campaign was no more visible than that of Haymon (whose challenge was precipitated by Olson having found her in contempt).

Influence of the Times in the outcome of judicial elections, once mighty, waned significantly in years prior to 2022 in light of the advent of campaign mailers containing supposed endorsements impliedly (but generally falsely) coming from interests aligned to those of the recipients. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic came the automatic mailing of ballots (previously available only to absentee voters) and the establishment of pre-election-day voting centers





Gascón to Face Hochman in Run-Off


Preliminary figures yesterday showed that Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is headed for a November run-off with former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hochman.

With 77.91 percent of the vote spread among 11 challengers, and with most of the anti-Gascón vote predictably going to Hochman, the incumbent’s reelection chances appear dim.

Former District Attorney Steve Cooley commented yesterday:

“Yesterday was the second best day for the DA’s office in years! The best day will be when Nathan Hochman is sworn in as the 44th district attorney of Los Angeles County.”

He added:

 “George Gascón should follow Ira Reiner’s example after his primary against Gil Garcetti—acknowledge his ultimate defeat and cease campaigning.”

Here are the figures as on press time yesterday:

George Gascón: 22.09%

Nathan Hochman: 17.66%

Jonathan Hatami: 13.26%

Debra Archuleta: 8.8%

Jeff Chemerinsky: 7.3%

Maria Ramirez: 7.28%

John McKinney: 6.16%

Eric Siddall:     6.01%

David Milton: 4.74%

Craig Mitchell: 3.36%

Lloyd Masson: 2.10%

Dan Kapelovitz: 1.23%




Former City Attorney Feuer Suffers Apparent Downfall


The outcome of the election for a member of the House of Representatives from the 30th Congressional District possibly marks the end of the political career of former Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. He came in fourth with 12.86 percent of the  votes.

Feuer, a career politician, was city attorney from 2013-22. He also served in the Assembly (2006–2012) and as a member of the Los Angeles City Council (1994–2001).

The husband of Justice Gail Ruderman Feuer of this district’s Court of Appeal, he has been under a cloud, with the possibility of a criminal prosecution of him looming. His role, if any, in the rigging of a lawsuit against the city, controlled by the city, aimed at minimizing its damages in connection the massive over-billing of users by the Department of Water & Power, remains unclear, although the Los Angeles Times and Consumer Watchdog are seeking the unsealing of records by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that would shed light on the matter.

Feuer has proclaimed obliviousness as to what went on under his watch. However, disbarred New York lawyer Paul Paradis, who was convicted of accepting more than $2 million in bribes in connection with the scandal—and drafted the complaint against the city while working for the city—has accused Feuer of lying under oath.

Last year, Feuer backed out of the race for mayor of Los Angeles after his campaign failed to gain traction.



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