Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Monday, June 17 , 1996
Page 6


Judge 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:

Friedman submitted a candidate statement for inclusion in the sample ballot describing himself as an "Appointed Deputy District Attorney" and as a "prosecutor." In truth, Friedman tried one short case under the supervision of an actual professional prosecutor. A judge ordered substitution of the phrase, "temporary volunteer Deputy District Attorney."

The judge also excised from the candidate statement the fabrications that Friedman was a "victim's rights specialist" and that he "co-authored Three Strikes You're Out."

The judge allowed to stand the claim that Friedman is "LAW ENFORCEMENT'S CHOICE FOR JUDGE," declaring that if two officers favored Friedman, the phrase could be viewed as truthful. Legally, the representation may be made; nonetheless, it is objectively false, as demonstrated by [rival candidate John] Moriarity having bagged nearly every conceivable endorsement from law enforcement circles.

Friedman also sought to describe himself in the statement as a "law professor." Yet, he has never taught anywhere as a full professor of law, an associate professor of law, or even an assistant professor of law. The judge required that the description be changed to "Adjunct Law Professor."

Even though Friedman's occupation is that of a legislator, not a law professor, another judge has allowed him to be listed on the ballot as "Law Professor/Lawmaker." Clearly, this is deceptive. That it has been permitted does not excuse the wrong.

It is inescapable that Friedman has sought to mislead voters. His ilk we do not need on the bench. For that matter, we should not be so complaisant as we are about our Legislature being inhabited by such deceitful souls. It is pitiful that our society acquiesces in the notion that mendacity is an ever-present factor in partisan politics that must simply be tolerated.

For whatever reason, there is a higher expectation of integrity on the part of judicial candidates than there is on the part of those seeking legislative offices. Friedman does not come up to the standard to which most members of the public would hold judicial aspirants. Indeed, it is difficult to see how anyone concerned about the composition of our judiciary could support this blatant truth-bender.

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