March 7, 2000
We are withdrawing our endorsement of Pamela Rogers for the Antelope Municipal Court. We do so in light of further statements by the judge, reported in the Saturday edition of the Antelope Valley Press, which we know to be falsehoods.
Little note of our withdrawal of the endorsement is apt to be taken in the Antelope Valley—a remote and largely rural realm where our few subscribers are not apt to receive this issue by mail until after the election, and where voting advice from downtown Los Angeles is not destined to have an impact, in any event. Nonetheless, in good conscience, we cannot continue to embrace the candidacy of a person whose lack of integrity has become increasingly evident, and whose unfitness for public office is now clear to us.
Pamela Rogers has been on a lying binge. Or, at least, we assume that her untruthful statements were "lies"—that is, untrue statements uttered with an appreciation of their falsity. The prospect does exist that by virtue of some mental affliction, Rogers is unable to discern truth from falsity, and actually believes the yarns she conjures up. However, having no evidence that Rogers suffers from such a condition, we mention this only as a theoretical possibility, and proceed on the assumption that she is simply a liar.
On Dec. 22, Rogers came to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise offices for the dual purpose of seeking an endorsement and being interviewed for a profile on the election contest. She met with the editorial board, comprised of Editor/Co-Publisher Roger M. Grace and General Manager S. John Babigian. Also participating in interviewing Rogers was Associate Editor Robert Greene. It was originally anticipated that Greene would write the article profiling the contest in which Rogers is being challenged by attorneys William A. Clark and Larry Layton. As it turned out, Grace wrote the article, which appeared Jan. 24.
Information had been supplied at the outset of the election by the Rogers camp that Clark had a problem with alcohol, and that this would emerge in the course of the campaign. When Rogers met with this newspaper, Grace asked the candidate whether Clark has a drinking problem. "I know that he has one," she responded. "I've seen him" in an intoxicated state, she told us. Rogers noted that she's "been in the Valley for 11 years." She said of Clark's propensity for imbibing, "He has a reputation for it in the legal community." The judge asserted that Clark drinks "from lunchtime on," and charged that he is an "alcoholic." She said that his intoxication after lunch is "real obvious." Rogers noted that as a deputy district attorney, before she became a judge (in 1995) she was present "at some of those lunches" at which Clark drank heavily, and commented: "I recall being personally amazed the guy could still walk." As to his current proclivity for ingesting alcohol at lunch, she noted: "I've had him in prelims in the afternoon" at which he appeared to have been drinking.
The Jan. 24 article contained some of the above quotations. Others were omitted because they were cumulative. The article—which reported that no corroboration of Rogers' allegations could be found—appears on the Internet at http://www.metnews.com/ant-rog.html.
Two weeks ago, Rogers told the Antelope Valley Press that her statements to this newspaper had been distorted. They had not been.
On Feb. 26, the Antelope Valley Press reported:
Rogers' statements were untruthful. In talking with us, she made no reference to 1997 or to any particular preliminary hearing. She did not say that she had suspected on only "one occasion" that Clark had been drinking during the lunch break. To the contrary, she referred to "prelims" in the plural. She did not specify that Clark had not slurred his words, nor did she mention a reddened face, nor refer to other counsel backing away from him. Her rendition of what was said in the interview was wholly a fabrication.
Prior to the Feb. 26 article appearing in the Antelope Valley Press, we had intended to endorse Rogers. With hesitation, we proceeded to do so in a Feb. 28 editorial in which we chose up sides in all of the nine contests on ballots in today's election. The editorial did note that "Rogers is less than we would hope for in a judge." In a Feb. 29 editorial, which appears at http://www.metnews.com/opinion/ed-rogers.html, we noted that we endorsed Rogers "with extreme reservations, if not qualms." In both editorials, we alluded not only to the false statements Rogers made to the Antelope newspaper, but to the public admonishment of her by the Commission on Judicial Performance based on long delays in deciding cases she had taken under submission; her performing as a judge while impeded by prescribed narcotics; and her disputatiousness.
It has come time to do something this newspaper has not done since it began endorsing in 1978: admit we were wrong, and retract an endorsement.
Rogers has now been reminded, both in a letter faxed to her and in the pages of this newspaper, as to what was said in the Dec. 22 interview. Any person in her position with any sense would not have proceeded to utter further lies. Rogers, however, has made additional statements to the Antelope Valley Press which do not square with the truth.
Rogers was quoted by that newspaper on Saturday as saying:
"I told the Met News twice I was not interested in talking about Mr. Clark's use of alcohol."
That simply is a lie. In talking with us, Rogers expressed no reluctance at even one point, let alone two, about discussing Clark's drinking habits. She evidenced no reticence through tone of voice or through her manner. She was entirely forthcoming.
The only point at which Rogers expressed a regret was after she was asked about Clark's allegation that she put in short hours. She lamented, "I would hope we could take the high road," adding she "would hope it wouldn't degenerate" into a contest of this sort. But that bemoaning of the direction the campaigning was taking came after she responded to Clark's bad-mouthing of her, not when she was freely discussing Clark's supposed alcoholism.
Saturday's article in the Antelope Valley Press went on to report further statements by Rogers:
"I did not bring it up, I didn't initiate the subject, and I did not make any accusations. I only answered questions," and those answers were misreported, she said.
It's true that she did not bring up the subject of Clark's supposed alcoholism—not directly, at least. Information provided by her camp rendered it inevitable that when the candidate paid a visit, she would be asked about the matter. Rogers' answers were not misreported. In answering questions, she did not simply provide "yes" or "no" answers but did, as the quotes from the interview evidence, make accusations.
It is plain to us now, and should have been sooner, that Rogers is simply morally unfit for judicial service. She's a serial liar.
We cannot endorse Layton. He's a delightful person and no doubt possesses the morality the incumbent lacks, but has engaged in conduct through the years of a silly nature, and could not be taken seriously as a judge.
We do have misgivings about endorsing Clark. He wronged a client; a malpractice judgment was entered against him; he had no malpractice insurance; he defeated the judgment by declaring bankruptcy. This does reflect a lack of honor. However, the character defect revealed by this incident is simply not so egregious as the incumbent's refusal to be truthful.
Unless she is out of touch with reality (meaning a mental unfitness for office), Rogers has knowingly been spewing lies. Lacking the courage to face up to the ramifications of her Dec. 22 remarks, she has untruthfully disavowed having made those remarks.
Those who lack courage, those who lack a commitment to truth, are unsuited for, and unworthy of, judgeships.
Taking all into account, and recognizing our impotence to affect the outcome of today's election in the Antelope Valley, we acknowledge our error in endorsing Pamela Rogers and withdraw that endorsement. Voters in the former Antelope Municipal Court District will be expressing their views as to which of three candidates should serve as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, for a term beginning in January. It is our hope that a majority of them will vote for a candidate other than Rogers, creating a run-off, so that the moral fitness of the incumbent might be scrutinized carefully in the months that remain before the Nov. 7 general election. We'll be rooting for Clark to be the ultimate victor.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 2000