All Countywide Judicial Candidates Rated 'Well-Qualified' by LACBA
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
All three candidates in the only countywide judicial race on the March 7 ballot have been rated "well qualified," the MetNews learned yesterday.
Meanwhile, a candidate in the former Los Angeles Judicial District who received a "not qualified" rating based on her alleged lack of judicial temperament will seek an injunction this morning against the dissemination of that rating, her lawyer said.
Los Angeles attorney Richard G. Sherman, who represents Vicki M. Roberts, said the County Bar "didn't follow its own rules and regulations" when it rejected Roberts' appeal of her tentative "not qualified" rating.
The evaluation process was conducted in an "unfair, disorganized manner," Sherman said. The Committee on Judicial Elections Evaluation "has its own pets down there," and has a bias against criminal defense lawyers and other candidates who are "subject to attack by the district attorney," Sherman said.
The committee, whose ratings are scheduled to be released today, consists of a mix of prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, and civil attorneys. Its chairman is prominent criminal defense attorney Gerald Chaleff.
Rating Roberts not qualified "is insane," Sherman added. "She's more qualified than anybody," he said, noting that he has known her for a long time.
Sherman also pointed out that two of her opponents, David Mintz and David Stuart, are deputy district attorneys. Mintz reported yesterday that he had been rated well qualified after an appeal, while Stuart did not appeal his tentative rating of qualified.
Also running in that race are Superior Court Commissioners John Slawson and John Ladner, previously rated well-qualified, and Los Angeles attorney Ronald Silverton, who appealed a not qualified rating and said yesterday he hadn't heard the outcome.
In the countywide Superior Court race, Deputy District Attorney Katherine Mader reported that she had received a well-qualified rating after a successful appeal. Her opponents, Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Jeffrey Marckese and Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan, were initially rated well-qualified and didn't need to appeal.
Also reporting a well-qualified rating yesterday was attorney Mitchell Dawson, running in what used to be the Beverly Hills Municipal Court constituency.
Joe Cerrell, chairman of Cerrell Associates Inc., reported that his client Judge John Martinez was also rated well qualified. Martinez, a judge for 18 years, is running for another term in the Alhambra district.
Mader successfully appealed the committee's tentative rating of "qualified," after initially saying she had no plans to do so. She declined to discuss her change of heart yesterday, and her campaign consultant, Fred Huebscher, would only say that the veteran prosecutor and former police inspector general was "more deserving of a well-qualified [rating] than any candidate in the race."
Dawson declined to say whether he had to take an appeal to get the well-qualified designation. "There's only one rating," he commented.
Two of his three opponents, Deputy District Attorney Richard Stone Jr. and Superior Court Commissioner Hugh Bobys, were previously rated well-qualified. Attorney John Khoury, who did not return a call yesterday, was tentatively rated not qualified, and it's unknown whether he appealed.
Martinez successfully appealed his tentative rating of qualified. Opponents Llewellyn Chin and Maria Vargas-Rodriguez were rated qualified and did not appeal.
Under the committee's procedures, candidates are initially interviewed by subcommittees, which then make recommendations to the full committee. The committee then issues a rating of well qualified, qualified, or not qualified.
Ratings of qualified or not qualified are tentative and may be appealed, which entails an appearance before the full committee. Initial ratings of well qualified are final, and had not been officially transmitted to candidates prior to yesterday.
One other candidate reported his final rating yesterday. Palmdale attorney William Clark, one of two lawyers challenging Judge Pamela Rogers in the former Antelope Judicial District, said his rating was upgraded from not qualified to qualified following an appeal.
Rogers, who did not return a phone call yesterday, previously acknowledged receiving a tentative rating but would not say whether it was qualified or not qualified or whether she would appeal.
The third candidate, Acton attorney Larry Layton, was rated qualified and did not appeal.
A total of nine contests will appear on the March ballot. Although there are no longer municipal courts in Los Angeles County, a transitional law provides that candidates who filed for seats on those courts prior to unification—representing eight of the nine contests—will run in the former districts as if the courts still existed, although the winners will be sworn in as Superior Court judges next January.
Candidates in the other district races, and what is known about their ratings, are listed below:
—Antelope Municipal Court, Office No. 1: David Bianchi, a partner in a Lancaster firm, and Deputy District Attorney Christopher Estes; both rated qualified. Neither appealed.
—Downey Municipal Court: Judge Jesus "Jesse" Rodriguez, who was tentatively rated qualified and did not appeal, faces Downey sole practitioner Kirt Hopson, who hasn't returned phone calls.
—Inglewood Municipal Court: Superior Court Commissioner Deborah Christian, previously rated well-qualified, and Deputy District Attorney Patricia Titus, who appealed her qualified rating but wasn't available yesterday.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000