letter is being written in response to your column of February 23,
2000. I know that you did not ask for a response, however, there were
points raised in the column to which I would like to respond.
of your points was summarized by the comment: "Judges should be
possessed of intellectual honesty, willing to acknowledge when they
have erred. The right of a litigant to move for reconsideration, upon
a proper showing, has no meaning where the judge is incapable of recognizing
that he or she is not infallible. Slawson's rationalization of the
erroneous statement he made during the interview is sadly reflective
of qualities one would hope not to find in a judicial officer."
my career as an attorney I appeared before well over 100 judges and
commissioners. I agree with you that there are some jurists that will
not change their decision, even if proven to be wrong, some judges
who appear to be insulted by the simple filing of a request for reconsideration,
and others who faithfully and thoughtfully reevaluate their decisions
keeping in mind that no one is infallible.
would be the first person to admit that I am not infallible. I am
not offended if someone disagrees with my decision, and if I were
convinced that my original decision was wrong, I would not hesitate
to change it. This is not to say that I continually "flip flop" or
reverse decisions simply because someone asks for a reconsideration,
because to do so would indicate that sufficient deliberation was not
given to the first decision.
after a careful and complete reconsideration of the issues the original
decision was wrong, a judge should not become a victim of pride or
embarrassment and refuse to change the originally erroneous decision.
comments having been made, I have reconsidered the original comments
that I made to you at our meeting of December 17, 1999 and my previous
e-mail message to you.
Canons of Ethics:
don't recall if your question regarding my opponents was asking for
general comments or whether you were asking for any derogatory information
that I may have about them. In either event, it was my hope prior
to the interview that we would not even discuss my opponents, and
I was certain that I would not say anything negative about them.
agree with the statement in your February 23, 2000 article wherein
you said, " ... While this might be, as expressed in the final
paragraph quoted above, his preference, that's a different matter
from being under a supposed legal mandate."
is true that regardless of how the Judicial Canons of ethics and the
election law are interpreted I was not going to conduct myself in
such a way as to make negative comments about my opponents. In retrospect,
I simply should have informed you of that fact and moved on rather
than quoting from the Canons of Ethics until I had thoroughly reviewed
them so that I could support my position based on the law.
agree that Election Code Sections 13307 and 13308 would not prohibit
one judicial candidate from making negative comments about another
during the course of an endorsement board interview. Also, you are
probably correct that on their face, or through the application of
the First Amendment, the Canons do not prohibit a judicial candidate
from making negative comments about an opponent to an editorial board.
However, as I should have told you in the first place, it is immaterial
to me since I do not want to campaign in that manner.
Law Professor Discussion
have continued to think about this issue and evaluate my choice of
words in my ballot statement. Even though it is not an appellate decision,
the case involving Katherine Mader and Douglas Carnahan involved the
same Professor designation issue. Irrespective of that decision, your
articles, research, and perspective have been one of the reasons for
the further reflection on the issue.
our oral discussions and in my previous letter to you I have thoroughly
discussed this issue and the reasons for the wording of my ballot
statement and therefore it will not be repeated in this letter.
my campaign brochure which has been given to thousands of voters,
a sample of which may be found at my website of "slawsonforjudge.com",
I describe my teaching position as "Law Instructor for 5 years
currently teaching evening law classes at El Camino College." There
is nothing I can do to change the March ballot statement, however,
in the event that there is a run-off election and I am one of the
candidates involved, I will change the ballot statement to reflect
language on my teaching position to that of a college law instructor.
I know that my specific job title with El Camino is that of "Lecturer"
but for the reasons stated in my previous e-mail, I do not believe
that I would mislead voters with the amended description.
your editorials and columns have not been favorable to my campaign,
I would at least like to thank you for publishing accurate excerpts
of my previous letter to you. Even though you disagree with many of
the points that I raised in that letter you at least let me present
them to your readers.