Dec. 15, 1999
Want to Run for a Judgeship? First,
Hi. Are you the fellow who signs up new instructors?
You bet! Are you volunteering to be a "Y" instructor?
That's the idea.
Terrific. We have openings for instructors in swimming, badminton, wrestling, you name it.
Gee, do you have anything, well, a bit more sedentary? Like teaching checkers?
Well, yeah, sure. Anything of value you can impart to these youngsters would be just great. Do you have a kid here in our "Y" program?
Oh, just want to help out to give these little fellers a boost huh?
Well, not quite. It's more a matter of wanting to hold a teaching post.
Hmm. You just want to do anything you can to spread knowledge, is that it?
No. I just want to hold the post of an instructor.
What? You're looking for a title?
Well, I guess that's what it boils down to.
Are you some kind of a nut?
No, I'm a lawyer.
The previous question stands.
Look, let me just explain it. I want to run for a judgeship in 2002.
And being an instructor in checkers is going to help you get elected?
Actually, yes. If I'm an instructor, I can use the ballot designation, "Attorney/Professor." If I call myself a "professor," well, voters are going to assume that I'm a law professor and that I'm really pretty smart in the law, being a professor in that field. Do you follow me?
Look. This is a YMCA, not a university. We don't have any "professors" here. We just have instructors.
Oh, that doesn't matter. See, there are some courts that have interpreted "professor" as meaning the same thing as "teacher." A guy named Terry Friedman ran for the Superior Court in 1994 as a "law professor." Actually, he was a former "adjunct professor"—that is, he had just taught part-time. Once a week. His real job was as an assemblyman. But a Superior Court judge in Sacramento said the ballot designation of "lawmaker/law professor" was OK, and the Court of Appeal in Sacramento gave its stamp of approval. The opinion wasn't published, so it can't be cited as authority, but it pretty clearly shows me what I can do as a candidate. And in '96, a Municipal Court judge named Patrick Murphy called himself a "judge/law professor" in running for the Superior Court. He was just an "adjunct professor," too—he taught a class once a week. But a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles—who had herself been an adjunct professor—said Murphy could bill himself as a professor.
Hold on, now. You're talking about two guys who each called himself a "law professor" when he was an "adjunct law professor." What does that have to do with you? You don't think that you can call yourself a "law professor" if you teach checkers, do you?
Oh, heck, no. I can't call myself a "law professor"—only a "professor." But that will still be a real help. There's a guy running for the Superior Court right now named Douglas Carnahan. He's a South Bay Municipal Court commissioner. He's calling himself a "Court Commissioner/Professor." So, voters will think he's an academician—a full professor—and will probably assume he teaches law. Actually, the fellow is an instructor at a two-year community college who teaches legal writing to paralegals. Even though the community college says that Carnahan is an "instructor," not a "professor," that doesn't matter under the reasoning used in the cases involving Friedman and Murphy. Somebody could seek a writ challenging the ballot designation, but if Friedman and Murphy could get by with it, why shouldn't Carnahan?
Has it occurred to you that if you were to call yourself a "professor," you'd be trying to fool voters?
Hey, look, that's how the game's played. A deputy district attorney, David Mintz, is running for the Los Angeles Municipal Court as a "Criminal Prosecutor/Professor." He teaches a course in trial advocacy at Pepperdine. A lawyer named Llewellyn Chin is running for the Alhambra Municipal Court as "Commissioner/Professor/Attorney." He doesn't teach at any institution—just occasionally gives talks on law. Maria Vargas-Rodriguez is in that same race in Alhambra. She's calling herself "Attorney/Law Professor," though she only has parttime status at Peoples College of the Law. And Richard Stone Jr., a deputy district attorney, has signed up to run as "Prosecutor/University Faculty." He teaches a course for paralegals at UCLA. I just want to be an instructor so I can do the same thing as everybody else and call myself a "professor."
Look, fella. As far as I'm concerned, you and Terry Friedman and Patrick Murphy and Douglas Carnahan and all the other phony professors are a bunch of tricksters. Characters like you don't belong in public offices, and you sure as hell shouldn't be judges. So, do me a favor and go away.
Does that mean you don't want me to teach checkers here?
Copyright, 1999, Metropolitan News Company. All rights reserved.