Suit Challenging LACBA Rating of Court Candidates Assigned to Sohigian
By KENNETH OFGANG, MetNews Staff Writer
A suit challenging the process by which the Los Angeles County Bar Association evaluates judicial candidates has been assigned to a judge who was rated "not qualified" in his own election campaign, LACBA President-Elect Rex Heinke said yesterday.
No decision has been made on whether to move to disqualify Judge Ronald Sohigian, Heinke—a partner in the Beverly Hills firm of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland—told the MetNews. Heinke, who has been representing LACBA up to now, added that a final decision on the extent of his own participation in the case hasn't been made.
Vicki M. Roberts, a Los Angeles attorney who is seeking an open seat in the Nov. 7 general election, brought the action after learning that LACBA was about to rate her not qualified in the March primary. The County Bar's Committee on Judicial Elections Evaluation reported that Roberts lacked "judicial temperament."
That was a "damning allegation," Roberts said in a pre-primary interview, and caused her to retract her previous prediction that she would win without a runoff.
Roberts finished second in the race, which took place in the former Los Angeles Municipal Court district, and faces Deputy District Attorney David Mintz in a runoff. Mintz was rated well qualified.
Roberts sought a temporary restraining order to bar dissemination of her rating. Judge David Yaffe—who hears TRO requests in his capacity as a Writs and Receivers judge—denied relief, saying such an order would be an impermissible prior restraint on free speech.
The case was recently assigned to Sohigian, who was also found lacking in judicial temperament when attorneys Charles Lindner and Ronald Smith challenged him for reelection in 1996. Sohigian criticized the association at the time as being more concerned with "how [lawyers] are treated" than with "how the law is treated."
Heinke was chairman of the committee at the time.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000