Dawson, Citing Ethics Worries,
Skips Taping of TV Debate as Opponents Spar Over Experience
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Three of the four candidates for a local judgeship sparred before a television camera over qualifications and experience yesterday while their absent opponent said he skipped the program over concerns his participation would violate judicial ethics rules.
Beverly Hills attorney Mitchell Dawson said he skipped the taped debate at Adelphia Communications' Santa Monica studios for fear that he might "through inadvertence violate [the] Canons of Judicial Ethics."
Dawson made the comment in a letter to Adelphia vice president William Rosendahl, who acted as moderator for the half hour program featuring Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Richard Stone, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Hugh Bobys, and West Los Angeles attorney John A. Khoury.
Dawson cited Canon 5B's restriction against statements "that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that could come before the courts."
The four are seeking what would have been the Beverly Hills Municipal Court seat being vacated by Judge Judith O. Hollinger, formerly Judith Stein. Because of court unification, the winner will get a full six-year term on the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Rosendahl, who briefly explained at the outset that Dawson had concerns about the questions that would be asked, questioned the three who were present about their positions on the death penalty and the three-strikes law, as well as their experience.
On the death penalty, Stone and Bobys both said it would be inappropriate to comment on their personal positions, promising to follow the law. Khoury took a somewhat different tack, saying he agreed with Justice Stanley Mosk's stance.
Mosk has often said that he dislikes capital punishment but is bound by the law to apply it in legally appropriate cases. Khoury said the death penalty discriminates against the poor and minorities, but promised to follow the law if elected.
The candidates mostly sparred about who had the most, and most relevant, experience. Stone cited his 14 years as a prosecutor, trying "every kind of criminal case there is," while Bobys pointed out that he's been a judicial officer for 10 years, and was a prosecutor for 23 years before that.
Khoury, whose practice focuses on aviation transactions, said he'd spent nine years as a judge pro tem, hearing "hundreds of cases."
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000