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How to choose the local judges

Right Here Right Now

Posted: June 2, 2008 3:51 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
Let's be honest. Who really cares about the judges on a ballot? I'm sure many of us simply guess at or skip the folks listed in the "Judicial" portion of our ballots. Does it matter which lying lawyer gets elected to the bench?

You bet it does and here's why: On May 16, by a 4-3 ruling, the California Supreme Court made an "activist" decision by declaring that all people have the "fundamental right to get married," striking down a prohibition against gay marriage.

As many of us recall, Prop 22 in 2000 was approved by 61 percent of the state's voters and defined marriage as strictly a union between two individuals of the opposite sex. These four individuals on the Supreme Court took it upon themselves to alter the cultural and moral standing of our state and thumb their nose at the voters of California.

Bad decisions come from bad justices. Bad justices come from bad judges. And who elects bad judges? We do.

The Superior (trial), Appellate, and Federal court systems create somewhat of a "farm system" for judges in which the incompetent and inept are (hopefully) weeded out before progressing to the majors: state Supreme and U.S. Supreme courts.

This means that our task as voters is to determine which people get into the entry levels of the court system, hopefully heading off bad candidates before they climb the ladder. One tool that the Los Angeles County Bar Association puts forward is a rating system that tells you whether candidates are qualified or not. You can look at it at www.cba.org.

But just remind yourself that these are lawyers talking about lawyers, and politics always enters in.

Another great tool was the recent forum put on by the Democratic Alliance for Action, which hosted many of the judicial candidates. The Dems allowed a couple of us Republicans to join them in hearing directly from the folks on the ballot.

Unfortunately, most of the candidates present were the ones directly endorsed by the Democratic Party in the SCV, so we really didn't get a view of the whole field. However, Carol Lutness and her group did an excellent public service for the valley.

Egad! Did I say something nice about the Dems? I must be slipping.

Some other ways of getting info include asking our local elected officials. Mike Antonovich's office has a list of endorsed candidates. Also, Roger Gitlin wrote an excellent review of the judicial situation in last weekend's Signal. If you don't still have the paper, visit www.the-signal.com and click on "Opinion" to find his column, "Judging the judges for June 3 election." The man talked to all of the candidates.

I, however, will fuse the opinions of all of these different sources into one recommendation that you, hopefully, will find useful. So, without further ado, here are my picks for judges:

Office No. 95: Lance Winters. His opponent, Patricia Nieton, was ranked "well qualified" but is also known as a judicial activist. Oh, geez. Winters is rated "exceptionally well qualified." The guy also loves dogs.

Office No. 154: Michael Jesic. One of his opponents, Bruguera, was rated "not qualified." The Dems seem to like Crabb. Jesic was a tough gang prosecutor for seven years. I'll bet he spits nails.

Office No. 69: Serena Murillo. Serena was a prosecutor and has a very compelling rags-to-riches story. Her opponent, Harvey Silberman, comes out of family court. I like prosecutors.

Office No. 82: Tom Rubinson. The guy has signs all over Westwood! He's running against two folks named Lee and Loo. Sounds like a conspiracy. Rubinson was rated well qualified, which puts him a step over the other two.

Office No. 123: Kathleen Blanchard. This lady is endorsed by the Dems and the Republicans, and she also is a gang prosecutor. She was rated "qualified" while her opponents were rated "not qualified." Seems like a slam-dunk here.

Office No. 119: Jared Moses. Once again, endorsed by both sides of the aisle and God. C'mon, if his name was Elijah, Noah, Joshua, Paul or Timothy, we'd still have to vote for him. Moses is a prosecutor and has two kids who have autism. A tough guy who understands.

Office No. 72: Steven Simons. Hilleri Merritt was endorsed by the Dem party. Chomel was rated well qualified and seems well liked by law enforcement. Simons is a constitutionalist. I like that.

Office No. 94: Eduard Abele. A tough choice here. Abele and O'Gara are both prosecutors, but Mack got a higher rating from the Bar. Antonovich endorses Abele. I'll go with him.

Office No. 84: Patrick Connelly. Gang prosecutor. Steve Cooley also endorses him.

Office No. 4: Ralph Dau. Another slam-dunk. Everyone including the Queen of England and Snoop-Dog endorses this guy. He's also a sitting judge and rated "exceptionally well qualified."

Please take the time to read and think about the judges you vote for. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. If we all do this, we can insure that we send good judges to make good decisions.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here Right Now" runs Mondays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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