Friday, October 24, 2003
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldstern to Seek Judgeship
Indomitable Larry Layton Says He May Make Seventh Bid for Bench
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldstern has become the latest candidate to throw his hat in the ring for a Los Angeles Superior Court seat.
Feldstern, who took out papers for both of the seats whose present occupants have declared they would not run, said yesterday he will wait to see how the field shakes out before committing to a particular race. But he will not be deterred if, as appears likely, he has to face one or more of his prosecutorial colleagues, he told the MetNews.
“I wish all of the other prosecutors well,” he commented. “I hope they succeed, unless of course they run against me.”
Feldstern has begun circulating petitions for both Office No. 18 and Office No. 29, the seats now held by Judges Marcus O. Tucker and Richard C. Hubbell. Both said last week they would not seek re-election.
He faces multiple potential opponents in either race. Superior Court Referee Mildred Escobedo, Deputy District Attorney Edward Nison, and Superior Court Research Attorney Kevin Notre have also taken out papers for the Tucker seat; Deputy District Attorney Patrick David Campbell and Workers’ Compensation Judge John Gutierrez have indicated their intent to run for the Hubbell seat; and Deputy District Attorney Judith L. Meyer, the first candidate to announce her intent to run for an open seat, said she still has not focused on a particular race.
There appear to be two other possible openings. Judge Nancy Brown said she is undecided whether to run, while Judge Chesley N. McKay Jr. has not returned phone calls seeking comment on persistent rumors he plans to step down.
Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Gootman, who works in Lancaster, has taken out papers to run for McKay’s seat in the event the incumbent does not run.
Perennial candidate Larry H. Layton, an Antelope Valley lawyer who is dean of his own law school, said he may run this year, but that after losing five bids for the old Antelope Municipal Court, then losing last year to Antelope Valley-based prosecutor Richard Naranjo, he does not want to run against McKay, Gootman, or anyone else from his home area.
Feldstern said he is prepared to spend $160,000 or more to get elected. His campaign message, he said, will be that the length and depth of his legal career make him better qualified than any other potential candidate.
Feldstern joined the District Attorney’s Office 18 years ago, after two years at the high-powered family law firm Trope and Trope, and is now the head deputy in Glendale and Burbank.
His experience, he noted yesterday, includes death penalty cases, hardcore gang prosecutions, major narcotics cases, and prosecutions of public officials, including former Los Angeles Councilman Mike Hernandez, who pled guilty to drug charges that were later dismissed after he completed a rehabilitation program.
He also has a background in juvenile law, having been head deputy in Sylmar.
He is entering the race with the backing of District Attorney Steve Cooley and the Los Angeles Police Department Command Officers Association and expects to be endorsed by victims’ rights groups, defense attorneys, and fellow prosecutors, he said. He also has been under consideration for an appointment by Gov. Gray Davis.
One potential opponent, Escobedo, said she will not be able to match the resources of Feldstern or Nison, who has also vowed a six-figure campaign, but said she was “going to be in it for the long haul.”
Escobedo, who was an as-needed referee for three years before gaining a full-time appointment in January of last year, acknowledged that voters usually prefer prosecutors to subordinate judicial officers.
“Sometimes the community foregoes all the other experiences that would make someone a good judge,” she conceded. But she said that she would, with the help of family and friends, try to convince voters they would find it “beneficial to have me become a judge.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company