Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Two Judges Draw Challenges After Prosecutor Group Runs Ad
By KENNETH OFGANG , Staff Writer
Two Los Angeles Superior Court judges drew challenges from prosecutors yesterday after the Association of Deputy District Attorneys ran an ad in a legal daily seeking challengers to a handful of Superior Court judges on the eve of today’s filing deadline.
Deputy District Attorneys David Lopez and Daniel Lee Bershin filed to run against Judge David Wesley, as did Los Angeles Police Dept. Sgt. Kevin M. Burke, a former Orange County prosecutor who had taken out papers earlier. Former ADDA President Herb Lapin also took out papers for the seat, but did not file as of the end of the business day.
Deputy District Attorneys Kenneth Kahn and Hilary Rhonan filed to run against Judge Dan Oki.
The ad in yesterday’s Daily Journal urged potential candidates to “PICK A BAD JUDGE...WE HAVE FIVE TO CHOOSE FROM.”
The five are Judges Gilbert Lopez, William Ryan, Oki, Wesley, and Richard Van Dusen. According to the ad, a “survey sent to over 900 prosecutors in the L.A. District Attorney’s Office” resulted in a finding that prosecutors “OPPOSE” Lopez and Ryan and “STRONGLY OPPOSE” Wesley, Oki, and Van Dusen.
The ad, which urged candidates to file first and call the ADDA for endorsements later, gave no explanation for opposition to Lopez, Ryan, or Van Dusen. It repeated criticism of Oki and Wesley, saying they were responsible for the release of several suspects whose arraignments had not taken place by court closing time on May 28.
Many of the suspects were charged with violent crimes, and one of them is now accused of murder. Oki was supervising judge of the criminal courts at the time. Wesley was assistant supervising judge, and later replaced Oki as supervising judge.
ADDA President Steven Ipsen, who is also a member of the State Bar Board of Governors, did not return MetNews phone calls.
Filing for incumbents and their challengers ends at 5 p.m. today. Candidates for open seats have until Monday to file.
Campaign consultants for Oki and Wesley questioned the prosecutors’ strategy.
Fred Huebscher, who represents Oki, said it was strange that an organization representing hundreds of prosecutors would run a recruiting ad rather than enlist a candidate from its own membership.
“Obviously the ADDA [didn’t] have a candidate or they wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars on an ad in the Daily Journal,” Huebscher scoffed. He also pointed out that while prosecutors historically do well in races for open seats, they have not had success in challenges to sitting judges in Los Angeles County.
He cited the examples of Larry Mason, who failed by a large margin in a challenge to the late Judge Burton Bach in the 1980s—Mason later served as an Inglewood Municipal Court judge by appointment—and John Harrold, who lost to then-Citrus Municipal Court Judge Bruce Minto in 1996.
One problem, Huebscher noted, is that prosecutors find it harder than sitting judges to raise money. Oki, he pointed out, has just begun fundraising and already has over $60,000 on hand.
Hal Dash of Cerrell Associates Inc., which represents Wesley, also scoffed at the ad. He suggested the prosecutors group may have violated campaign laws by failing to register as a political committee.
In other election-related developments, three candidates took out papers to run for open seats.
Seeking Open Seats
Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Asha Greenberg and Torrance attorney Michael D. Shook began the process of filing for the seat of Judge Rosemary Shumsky, while Miguel Dager, also a Los Angeles deputy city attorney, took out papers for the seat of Judge Richard Hubbell.
Shook, 41, is the son of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shook.
Greenberg, 51, is a political veteran, having served on the Santa Monica City Council from 1992 to 1998. She was known as a vigorous advocate of public safety, challenging the city’s liberal establishment for its failure to come to grips with what she and her supporters said were threats to the city’s quality of life as a result of failing to come to grips with misconduct by its large homeless population.
Greenberg currently serves as managing attorney for the city’s nuisance abatement program, dealing with threats to communities posed by drugs, vice, and the presence of vacant properties.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company