Monday, June 17 , 1996
EDITORIALJudge Terry Friedman—Who's He Trying to Kid?
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman, writing in the current issue of the California Judges Assn. newsletter, "The California Bench," expresses this concern:
"[J]udicial elections seem to resemble partisan campaigns in many ways.
"Is this an appropriate or wise way to select judges? Is the democratic process of electing judges compatible with maintaining respect for an independent and non-political judiciary?"
These are strange queries coming from this former assemblyman whose 1994 campaign for judicial office was largely financed with various Democratic office-holders' surplus campaign funds and who ran one of the most deplorably deceitful campaigns in the past few decades.
For Friedman to be expressing a concern over whether judicial elections can tarnish the image of the judiciary is like the Menendez brothers questioning whether children these days fail to show adequate respect for their parents.
If the democratic process of electing judges is not compatible with maintaining respect for an independent and non-political judiciary, we can tell you the reason. It's because of antics of desperate and unprincipled office-seekers who, as Friedman did, evince a lack of regard for the dignity of judicial office.
The campaign of 1994 is behind us. But Friedman is still in office, and so long as he is, the penchant for lying he demonstrated in that campaign remains an issue surrounding him. This is especially so in view of his current portrayal of himself as one concerned over negative effects of judicial campaigns.
As this newspaper observed in an editorial in that election:
For a seedy campaigner like Friedman to pose as one concerned over the possibility that campaign spectacles will generate public disrespect for the judiciary reflects gall. It evidences that this man has sustained no loss of the propensity for truth-bending which marked his 1994 campaign effort.
As we see it, the democratic process of electing judges will be "compatible with maintaining respect for an independent and non-political judiciary" only if the legal community will care enough about the image and caliber of the judiciary to unite in opposition to those in Friedman's mold.
Toward that end, we reiterate our hope that Citrus Municipal Court Judge Patrick Murphy will be soundly defeated in his bid for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Pitted against Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Karl Jaeger, an able and respected jurist, Murphy, whose tactics mimic Friedman's, should be actively opposed by the bar.
Maybe it's an old-fashioned view, but we happen to see liars as persons who are immoral, and we just don't see a need for immoral folk to be represented on the bench. That much diversity we don't need. For a candidate to represent himself as a "prosecutor" when he helped out in one case and as a "law professor" when he had taught night law classes as a sideline in the past (and not even in the preceding year), is outright deception. Friedman's dishonesty cannot be excused and should not be minimized.
For the California Judges Assn. to publish an article by Terry Friedman on drawbacks of the elective system for judges reflects curious judgment. What next? A piece by San Diego's Dennis Adams or James Malkus on upholding standards of judicial ethics? Or by a federal judge, A. Andrew Hauk, on maintaining ideal judicial temperament and objectivity?
Issue was taken with the foregoing editorial by the then-president of the California Judges Assn., Paul Boland. To see his letter-to-the-editor and the editor's response, CLICK HERE.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 1996