Jan. 4, 2000
From South Bay Seek to Infiltrate Courts
Our communities are in peril. They face a threat, a very real threat, of infiltration by aliens. The aliens are not cone-headed beings from other worlds, nor even denizens of faraway places on this globe. They lurk nearby, yet they are menacing. They dwell in that region of this county known as the South Bay.
Two of them have infiltrated the municipal bench in Downey, bringing with them their foreign ideas. One is now, at this very moment, seeking to infiltrate the bench in the Los Angeles Judicial District.
Let the names of these intruders be known. Jesse Rodriguez and J.D. Lord have penetrated the borders of the Downey Judicial District and have assumed the roles of Municipal Court judges. They have joined local organizations in the district and are seeking to blend in with the population. But, alas, longtime Downey resident Kirt Hopson sees these imposters for what they are, and is heralding a warning to the citizenry.
He is doing even more. Boldly, he has thrown down the gauntlet and has challenged one of these trespassers—Rodriguez—in the March 7 primary. His message is, in essence: "Beware! Rodriguez is not one of us."
Hopson tells of the sinister conspiracy of these aliens from the South Bay to seize power in the Downey Judicial District. Lord gained an appointment to the Downey bench in 1991. A vacancy opened in the office of court commissioner in 1995. By then, Lord had somehow seized control of the five-member court and, unilaterally, brought in Rodriguez as commissioner, rather than hiring a local lawyer, as custom commanded. Rodriguez illegitimately held his post—but by holding that post, he gained the governor's favor for appointment to a judgeship on the court when a vacancy occurred.
And so, Rodriguez's judgeship is the product of the aliens' mischief.
Hopson beseeches the good people of the southeast cities of Downey, Norwalk and La Mirada, the cities comprising the Downey Judicial District, to begin purging their bench of these strange visitors from the South Bay, that area that lies across the county, on the southwest extremity. Banish Rodriguez from the realm, he exhorts the people, and regain local control! "Remember, this campaign is about...local control," a campaign letter of his sets forth.
Attorney Vicki Roberts is sounding a similar alarm. Running for an open seat on the Los Angeles Municipal Court against five rivals, she trumpets the allegation that one of those competitors—South Bay Municipal Court Commissioner John Slawson—actually lives in the South Bay area. Aha! Another alien seeks to slip in.
Is the effort to plant these South Bayites in the various cities of the county a harbinger of an invasion to come? Will the joint forces of Gardena, Manhattan Beach, Rolling Hills, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, Lawndale, Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance and Lomita—cities comprising the Empire of the South Bay—stage a coup once they have their people in place in the various cities?
The admonitions of Hopson and Roberts prompt a contemplation of this prospect.
Roberts asserts that by virtue of living in the Los Angeles Judicial District, she is "more sensitive to the needs of the community" than Slawson.
Real estate attorney Llewellyn P. Chin is one of two challengers to Alhambra Municipal Court Judge John Martinez. Martinez is not an invader from South Bay—in fact, he lives in San Gabriel, within the boundaries of the Alhambra Judicial District. But Chin's commitment to the locale is particularly keen. Not only is he a local boy, sensitive to the needs of his community, but pledges to be influenced as a judge by community sentiment.
His candidate statement bears this slogan: "Elect 'L.C.' Judge—Your voice in Court." "Your" voice, he says, means the voice for "the community." Chin explains that "one of the parties" in court proceedings "is the community." Public sentiment might not always be the "determining factor" in his rulings, once he becomes a judge, but, he says, "you certainly have to consider the opinion of the public in terms of what they want."
So, here you have the two opposites. Carpetbaggers like Rodriguez, Lord and Slawson, posing as locals, and L.C. Chin, who pledges to become an advocate on the bench for effectuation of local sentiment.
Obviously, the voters of the 24 judicial districts in Los Angeles County must be vigilant in guarding against subversive elements gaining or retaining power. They must identify candidates who hale from other regions—in particular the South Bay—and rebuff their bids for judicial office. They must elect those local candidates who promise to be a voice for the community on the bench.
Voters should not be confused by crafty arguments aimed at prodding them to abandon the cause of retaining local control of the courts. For example, they must disregard the strong probability that court unification will occur, in which event those whom they elect to Municipal Court seats will take office as Superior Court judges, assignable anywhere in the county. They must ignore the point that judges who live in other judicial districts are versed in the same case law and the same statutes that apply in the judicial district in which they sit. The bottom line is that it is simply not fitting for voters in one judicial district in the county to vote for a resident of another judicial district in the county—we must be loyal to our own.
Indeed, anyone from outside this region who reads this article on the MetNews website will undoubtedly be aghast at the thought that a judge who lives in the Southwest portion of Los Angeles County would be presiding over cases in the Southeast area of that county, and would have the audacity to ask voters to retain him in office.
The aliens from the South Bay must be repelled.
Copyright, 2000, Metropolitan News Company. All rights reserved.