Judging the Judges

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Cynthia Loo

When the time comes to vote in judicial races, I’m usually frustrated. This sense of frustration is driven by my lack of knowledge about the candidates and difficulty associated with getting enough information to make an informed decision.

A few years ago, when I was relatively new to the Northeast Democratic Club, I attended a judicial candidate endorsement meeting. I went to the meeting hoping I’d become a more discerning voter, equipped with information I wouldn’t otherwise have had had I not attended the meeting.

Boy, was I disappointed!

The candidates arrived, delivered their stump speeches, waited for the votes to be counted, and then left. Their presentations gave me little more than what was contained in the Official Sample Ballot I had received in the mail that same morning!

Since then, like most people, the day-to-day comings and goings of life have fully occupied my time. I now find myself approaching yet another judicial election, again with little confidence I have enough information to make an informed decision. Yes, I’ve read my Official Sample Ballot and attended the Northeast Democratic Club endorsement meeting.

The Club endorsed Harvey Silberman for Judge of the Superior Court, Office 69, and Patricia Nieto for Judge of the Superior Court, Office 95, and Lori-Ann C. Jones for Judge of the Superior Court, Office 84. Neither Cynthia Loo (shown here) nor Thomas Rubinson, both competing for the Superior Court Judge Office 82 position, gained enough votes to be endorsed by the Club, which requires 60% for endorsement. (Note: Cynthia Loo was endorsed by the Northeast Democratic Club at a subsequent general election endorsement meeting in October 2008)

But unlike my earlier experience, I’m not simply relying on those two sources of information. I’ve also tapped into a couple of other resources. I discovered that the Los Angeles County Bar Association established a Judicial Election Evaluations Committee whose purpose is to evaluate candidates running for the contested judicial elections in Los Angeles County. The Bar Association rates each judicial candidate and makes their rating available to the public on the LA County Bar website. Their ratings can be found here.

Doing research for an article I wrote a few months ago on the overrepresentation of blacks and browns in the California State Prisons, I became motivated to attend a conference on promoting diversity on the bench. The lack of diversity on the bench has been brought to the fore by Assemblyman Mike Davis (AD48) who is giving this issue the attention it deserves. In a piece he wrote last year for the California Progress Report, speaking of the State of California he noted, “70 percent of the state’s judges are Caucasian.” He went on to say, “Although California’s judges are decidedly Caucasian, California’s prison population is overwhelmingly African-American and Latino. In 2005, according to the California Department of Corrections, 67 percent of all male prison inmates in California were African-American or Latino.” This pressing social justice issue is one of the many reasons we, as voters, must educate ourselves.

One of the most comprehensive sources of information can be found at the League of Women’s Voters site. If I could only go to one source, this would be it. It can be found at this highly recommended. The site can be found here.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party has endorsed the following Superior Court Judicial candidates:

Superior Court Judges
Office No. 4 Ralph W. Dau*
Office No. 69 Harvey A. Silberman
Office No. 72 Hilleri Grossman Merritt
Office No. 82 Cynthia Loo
Office No. 84 Lori-Ann C. Jones
Office No. 94 C. Edward Mack
Office No. 95 Patricia D. Nieto
Office No. 119 Jared D. Moses
Office No. 123 Kathleen Blanchard
Office No. 125 James N. Bianco
Office No. 154 Rocky L. Crab

These and other L.A. County endorsements can be found here:

Superior Court Judges endorsed by The Los Angeles Times
Office No. 4 ——- Ralph W. Dau
Office No. 69 —– Serena R. Murillo
Office No. 72 —– Hilleri Grossman Merritt
Office No. 82 —– Cynthia Loo
Office No. 84 —– Pat Connolly
Office No. 94 —– Michael J. O’Gara
Office No. 95 —– Patricia Nieto
Office No. 119 — Jared D. Moses
Office No. 123 — Kathleen Blanchard
Office No. 125 — James N. Bianco
Office No. 154 — Michael Jesic

sharon-kyle.gifAs we march towards June 3rd, I hope to provide you with more info on the candidates. Look for new articles to appear in the days and weeks to come.

– By Sharon Kyle

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Published by the LA Progressive on May 18, 2008
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About Sharon Kyle

Sharon Kyle, J.D. is the Publisher of the LA Progressive which she co-founded with her husband Dick Price. Ms. Kyle is an adjunct professor of law at Peoples College in Los Angeles. She sits on the board of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter and is on the editorial board of the BlackCommentator.com. Photo courtesy Wadeva Images. www.wadevaimages.com