Tuesday, October 23, 2001
Former Commissioner Richard Espinoza Says He Will Run Again for Los Angeles Superior Court Seat
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A former Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner said yesterday he will run for the Superior Court seat being vacated by Judge Michael Kanner.
Richard A. Espinoza, now a Baldwin Park sole practitioner, had taken out papers to run against Judge Charles D. Sheldon or Judge Charles Peven. But Espinoza said yesterday that he will file for Kanner’s seat following the incumbent’s decision, reported in yesterday’s MetNews, not to run for another term.
If successful, Espinoza would resume what turned out to be one of the shortest careers of any local judicial officer in recent history.
He was appointed to what was supposed to be a 12-month position last year on the Rio Hondo Municipal Court, filling in for Judge Francis Gately while Gately chaired the Presiding Judges Association. But just two weeks into his term, county judges approved court unification and the Presiding Judges Association was no more.
Espinoza initially served as a Superior Court commissioner under unification. But with no permanent authorization or funding for his position, he was back at his Baldwin Park practice within six months.
The candidate said he had nothing against either Peven or Sheldon. He only targeted them, he said, because they were old enough to retire and wouldn’t lose pension benefits if they had to leave office when their current terms expire in 2003.
Peven, 67, was a Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner from 1980 to 1987 and a judge of that court from 1987 to 1989, and has been a Superior Court judge since then. Sheldon, 69, has been a Superior Court judge since 1983.
Peven said yesterday he has no intention of retiring to avoid an election contest. “I’m certainly going to fight to retain my job” if there’s an opponent, he said.
He has retained the premier local consulting firm for judicial candidates, Cerrell Associates Inc., to file his papers—as has Sheldon—and said he would probably retain the firm to run his campaign if he is opposed.
Sheldon was on the bench all afternoon and could not be reached for comment.
Espinoza ran unsuccessfully for the Citrus Municipal Court seat won by Judge Tom Falls in 1996, then filed to run for Rio Hondo Municipal Court Judge Rudy Diaz’s seat on last year’s ballot. He dropped his challenge to Diaz, citing “financial pressure,” and was appointed a commissioner of the Rio Hondo court a short time later.
Espinoza and the judges of the old El Monte-based court said the appointment had nothing to do with his dropping his contest against Diaz. The choice, they said, was strictly Gately’s.
Although this will be his first countywide race, Espinoza said, he will campaign much the same way he did six years ago—without a professional consultant, serving as his own campaign manager, and on a very limited budget.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company