Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Weis Upgraded to ‘Well Qualified’ Rating on Appeal to County Bar
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
The judicial candidate evaluation of Deputy District Attorney Lauren Weis has been upgraded to “well qualified” after a successful appeal of a lower tentative rating, Weis said yesterday.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association’s full Judicial Elections Evaluations Committee assigned Weis the new, higher rating after a subpanel rated her “qualified” earlier this month.
“The full committee needed to see me and who I was,” Weis said.
In another judicial race, Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound said he failed to get his “qualified” rating raised. Several other candidates running in the seven Los Angeles Superior Court races said their appeal hearings are scheduled for this week.
The election is March 5. If no single candidate in each judicial race gets more than 50 percent of votes cast, the top two finishers will compete in a November runoff.
The association’s evaluations are generally considered a vital part of Los Angeles County judicial races, since few candidates are able to conduct any personal voter outreach in a countywide election. The evaluations are generally thought to carry a lot of weight with newspaper editorial boards and individual voters.
The ratings are “well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified.”
Tentative ratings for most of the candidates have been reported in the MetNews based on statements from the candidates but otherwise are not public. The county bar is scheduled to make the final ratings public tomorrow.
Weis is running for Office No. 53, an open seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court, against West Covina lawyer H. Don Christian, Mid-Wilshire lawyer and police Board of Rights hearing officer Robert Harrison, and Baldwin Park lawyer Richard A. Espinoza.
Christian previously scored a “well qualified” rating from the panel, while both Harrison and Espinoza were rated “qualified” and declined to appeal.
Weis said from the beginning that she planned to appeal the mid-level rating, which she attributed in part to anonymous comments about her from colleagues.
“Because the process is anonymous, it’s very easy for people to say things and not have them challenged,” Weis said. “I understand the need for anonymity, [but that means] you can only in general try to tell the bar committee who you are and what you are.”
Gelfound, a candidate for the Office No. 67 open seat, said he was notified verbally that his “qualified” rating would stand but has not yet received written confirmation.
Two of his opponents, State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo and Superior Court Commissioner Steven Lubell, said they were rated “well qualified.” The fourth candidate, attorney David Crawford III, said last week that he had not yet received his tentative rating. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.
In the race for Office No. 2, Administrative Law Judge Donald Renetzky could not be reached for comment yesterday on his appeal to raise his “qualified” rating. He is facing two “well qualified” candidates—attorney Joseph Deering and Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg.
For Office No. 39, Deputy District Attorneys Craig Renetzky and Richard Naranjo said their appeals of their “qualified” ratings are slated for this evening. They are facing law school dean Larry H. Layton, who did not appeal his own “qualified” rating.
In Office No. 40, in which incumbent Judge Floyd Baxter was rated “well qualified,” challenger Ross Stucker said he has not checked his mail in over a week, and that the county bar rating could be sitting there.
“Frankly it is not very important to me,” Stucker said.
Judge Robert Simpson was rated “well qualified” in his bid to retain his seat in Office No. 90, while challenger Kenneth Wright has not responded to numerous MetNews phone calls.
In Office No. 100, Deputy District Attorney was rated “well qualified,” and attorney Thomas Warden and Administrative Law Judge John Gutierrez reported last week that they had not yet heard from the county bar. Neither could be reached yesterday.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company