John Moriarity is a prominent and accomplished trial attorney. He enjoys the respect of both the bench and the bar. In the Army, Colonel Moriarity earned his stripes; in the courtroom, he's earned the right to a robe and a gavel.
In light of his experience, his integrity, his knowledge, and his solid and mature judgment, John Moriarity would be an asset to the Superior Court bench. With enthusiasm, we endorse him for election to the open seat he seeks.
Moriarity has two opponents. One of them, Deputy District Attorney Robert Schirn, is, in our view, competent to serve as a judge. The other, Assemblyman Terry Friedman, is sorely lacking in qualifications for a judgeship at the superior or municipal level.
Schirn proclaims that he is the better choice as between himself and Moriarity because he has been practicing criminal law while Moriarity has dealing with civil cases. New judges are apt to be assigned to the criminal court, he points out, and from that he concludes that he would fit right in while Moriarity would flounder in an area of law in which he is unschooled. That is ludicrous, simplistic reasoning which betrays a lack of depth in thinking. What counts is a potential judge's ability to look at the law, grasp it, separate what pertains from what doesn't, and apply it. One skilled in legal research and reasoning, one possessed of intelligence and fairness, should be able to shift from one area of law to another, deftly. An astute judge can, in a conflicts case, apply the law of Oregon or Maine with no prior dealing with the laws of those states. He or she can comprehend and handle maritime law, water law, or trademark law, as the occasion might dictate. One jurist who retired as a Court of Appeal presiding justice in San Bernardino had no difficulty in taking over as chief justice of the High Court of Samoa with no background in Samoan law.
The contention that civil attorneys are handicapped in embarking on Superior Court careers is belied by innumerable examples of civil attorneys who excelled in handling judicial chores of all sorts. Too, crediting Schirn with sincerity in making his point, we find inherent in it an admission that he would regard his own criminal-courts background as an impediment to his ever handling civil cases. The lack of versatility and adaptability he imputes to other is telling as to his perception of his own shortcomings.
This having been said, we do discern a fitness on the part of Schirn to function as a Superior Court judge, if only on the criminal side.
Friedman is another story. Putting aside his left-of-center political philosophy, we observe that, by any objective assessment, he lacks the background in law expected of a Superior Court candidate. It well may be that he is formidable as a candidate owing to his present political post, his political connections, and his political savvy. We are hopeful that term limits for legislators will not cause every politico whose legislative career is doomed and who has a law license to eye a job in the judiciary, where no term limits apply, without regard for suitability for judicial service. That would politicize judicial contests grotesquely.
Friedman, unlike Moriarity, has not earned his stripes in law. Friedman, unlike Moriarity, does not know how courtrooms operate, and is not ready to operate one. His candidacy for a judgeship is a farce.
When his political philosophy is factored in, we find a politico who would be clearly biased against the prosecution and police in criminal cases, and against businesses in civil cases. We suspect he would issue result-oriented rulings comporting with goals of the decidedly-left-ofcenter clique of which he is a part.
This is not our idea of a man destined for greatness as a judicial officer.
With confidence in our choice, we strongly back John Moriarity in the election for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 2.
Copyright Metropolitan News Company, 1994