Ex-Judge Casas Enjoined From Calling Himself 'Judge' in Judicial Campaign
By KENNETH OFGANG, MetNews Staff Writer
Former Rio Hondo Municipal Court Judge J.B. Casas Jr. can't call himself "Judge Casas" in his campaign for the East Los Angeles Municipal Court, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Friday.
Judge Robert O'Brien, acting in a suit filed by incumbent Judge Ruth Kwan, ordered county election officials to revise two paragraphs of Casas' ballot statement, and enjoined Casas "from referring to himself, in his candidate's statement or any other election-related materials, with the title 'Judge.' "
Casas is challenging Kwan for the post to which she was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson last year.
The portion of the ballot statement which was ordered revised read:
"JUDGE JUVENTINO B. CASAS JR. is the only candidate who has lived and worked in the East Los Angeles Judicial District for more than 26 years, gaining extensive legal experience as an attorney and a judge.
"JUDGE CASAS served on the Rio Hondo Munic_ipal Court from 1983 to 1987," presiding over thousands of criminal cases and more than 100 jury trials. He was elected in 1986 to serve as Presiding Judge by the Judges of that court."
As ordered by O'Brien, those paragraphs will now read:
"JUVENTINO B. CASAS JR. has lived or worked in the East Los Angeles Judicial District for more than 26 years, gaining extensive legal experience as an attorney.
"CASAS currently is a trial attorney with a private practice in Montebello. [Casas] served on the Rio Hondo Municipal Court from 1983 to 1987, presiding over thousands of criminal cases and more than 100 jury trials. He was elected in 1986 to serve as Presiding Judge by the Judges of that court."
The order also requires removal of the word "JUDGE" preceding Casas' name in three other places in the statement.
Casas was appointed to the Rio Hondo court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1983 and defeated by Richard Van Dusen in 1986. He was generally known by, and ran under, his first and middle initials during that service, but has opted to run in the heavily Hispanic East Los Angeles district under his first name and middle initial.
Friday's order doesn't specifically address the issue of what happens to campaign materials that have already been printed, but Kwan campaign consultant Parke Skelton told the MetNews that a letter was going out to Casas demanding that he destroy all uncirculated literature; recover and destroy all signs; and rename his registered campaign committee, now know as the "Committee to Elect Judge Casas."
Casas said he will not appeal the injunction. "I don't think it'll make much difference," he commented, since he can print new literature identifying himself as a former judge.
"I don't think the ballot statement was misleading...I've been called 'judge' since I left the bench. It's custom and practice to call former judges 'judge.' "
As to his campaign literature, the ex-jurist remarked that his occupation was "clearly stated as attorney at law," with "no indication that I'm a sitting judge." Now that O'Brien has ruled, however, he said he will instruct his campaign workers to destroy all of the uncirculated literature in their possession, more than 2,000 pieces, and supply them with new materials.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 1996