Race for the Gavel (Part 3 of 3)

Apologies for the delay in getting this final entry out. Our last entry on candidates up for election tomorrow for Superior Court Judicial position centers on Office 144. Of the seven candidates, replied Larry Layton, Maria Rivas Hamar, David W. Stuart, and Randolph M. Hammock. Their responses follow after the jump.

But first, as promised, here’s some background info on the Superior Court Judges in LA CountyRipped straight from Wikipedia, :

The judicial system of California is the largest in the United States, with about 1,600 judges hearing over 8 million cases each year… California’s system is divided into three levels, with the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal serving as appellate courts reviewing the decisions of the Superior Courts.

Each county in California has a Superior Court that hears all civil and criminal cases. Before 1998, each county also had a municipal court that heard some of the cases. In June, 1998, California passed Proposition 220, which allowed the judges in each county to determine if the county should have only one trial court. By 2001, all 58 counties had consolidated their courts into a single Superior Court.

Judges are elected by the county residents for 6 year terms in nonpartisan elections. In the case of a vacancy the Governor fills the position by appointment. All Superior Court judges must have been either a member of the State Bar of California or a judge in the state for the 10 years prior to taking office. There are a total of about 1,500 Superior Court judges, assisted by 380 commissioners and 35 referees.

Because Los Angeles County has the largest population of any county, it also has the largest Superior Court. The Los Angeles County Superior Court is organized into dozens of highly specialized departments dealing with everything from moving violations to mental health. It handles over 2.5 million legal matters each year, of which about 4,000 terminate in jury trials; this works out to about 4,300 matters per judge. Its 429 judges are assisted by 140 commissioners and 14 referees.

For previous coverage and additional comments from other Judicial Candidates, click for Part One or Part Two.

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Randolph M. Hammock, Esq., Consumer Law Attorney
Judicial Candidate Office 144

“Who should I vote for judge?” That is a question that many of my friends often ask me before each election. I suppose they ask me since I have been living and practicing law in Los Angeles since 1985. Unfortunately, although I have voted in every single election since 1985, I have never personally known anyone on the ballot for judge. As such, I have been in the same drifting boat as the vast majority of voters in Los Angeles County. So to become “informed” it has been my custom to simply review the ratings of each candidate given by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. and to vote accordingly. I have urged my friends and family to do the same.

What does the typical voter do? The answer is obvious and somewhat disturbing ? they simply vote for the judicial candidate based upon their name and/or their three word “ballot designation.” The three-word ballot designation ? that?s the key. Of course, it is the candidate who chooses their own designation. Creativity is now becoming the norm. A Deputy District Attorney has now become a “Criminal Gang Prosecutor” or something with a similar ominous title. Anyone who teaches a single course at an unaccredited law school for even a few hours a month suddenly becomes a “Professor.” The list goes on.

The painful fact remains that since the vast majority of the voters are essentially uninformed about who the judicial candidates are, they typically vote for the “law and order”candidates, to wit, the Deputy District Attorneys. Indeed, a private sector attorney hasn?t won a Los Angeles county-wide judicial election since 1988. The majority of sitting judges in Los Angeles County are former DDAs.

While I certainly believe that we should all commend the fine job that the DDAs do for our society, this doesn?t mean that I believe that we should automatically vote for them for judge, in some sort of knee-jerk reaction, so we can all sleep better at night knowing that tough “law and order” judges are putting the criminals away.

Being a judge is more than just being “tough on crime.” Indeed, the average voter?s contact with the legal system will typically involve something other than the criminal courts. A divorce (and all issues of child custody, support, etc.) occurs in the family law courts. A lawsuit occurs in the civil courts. Wills, Conservatorships, etc. take place in the probate courts.

What we need, in my opinion, is balance in our courts. We need judges who have a broad range of legal experiences. We need judges who have a reasoned and calm temperament. Judges who will listen to what the parties and their lawyers have to say, and who actually care about trying to understand and appreciate what their respective legal positions are. Judges who will attempt to be fair and unbiased to everyone. Judges who will treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Judges without personal agendas, and who will simply and fairly uphold the rule of law.

My name is Randolph Martin Hammock. I am a candidate for Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 144. I would be that kind of judge.

I invite you to review the details about myself, my qualifications and my candidacy at my website: hammock4judge.com. I respectfully request your support and your vote on June 6th.

David W. Stuart, Criminal Prosecutor
Judicial Candidate Office 144

I have been a criminal prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney since 1995. Appearing in court nearly every day, I have tried more than 75 felony and misdemeanor jury trials and have prosecuted literally thousands of other cases.

My mission as a prosecutor has always been to see that justice is done in every case. Protecting the rights of crime victims has been my highest priority.

Moreover, I believe that I have earned a reputation for honesty and fairness that I will carry with me to the bench as a judge. I will do everything that I can to help promote public confidence in the integrity of our courts.

I am proud to be endorsed by the following organizations, elected officials and newspapers:

The Los Angeles Times
Metropolitan News-Enterprise
District Attorney Steve Cooley
Crime Victims United of California
California Organization of Police and Sheriffs
Los Angeles Police Chiefs’ Association
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

For a complete list of my endorsements and more information on my candidacy, please visit my website at www.stuartforjudge.com.

Thank you for your support. Remember to vote on June 6, 2006.

Maria Rivas Hamar, Litigation Attorney
Judicial Candidate Office 144

I am running for Superior Court of Los Angeles County in seat 144. I have been a trial attorney in criminal, civil and family law cases for 23 years, in addition to my community service. I believe that the judgeship would be the ultimate community service on my part.

I am proud to be Cuban American and just as proud to be married into my husband’s Jewish traditions. I have put my energy, passion and resources to bridge the gap of those who have struggled for equality. As brief examples, I provide pro bono work to abused women for the non-profit group Sojourn. I started girls’ soccer against cultural norms in a soccer crazed South American nation. From humble beginnings in the only place that would permit girls to play, orphanages, I integrated my orphans with the elite girls of private schools, trained 125 girls in six cities, hosted a national tournament and brought the very best to my home in the United States to compete in the United States. Each of my girls was awarded a proclamation from the City Council of Los Angeles. I have defended companies and individuals in court who were discriminated against for their race and/or nationality.

I enjoy my service to the community. In addition to my volunteer work mentioned above, I lecture on legal issues to seniors, rotary clubs, legal groups, schools and others. I am a board member of the Women Lawyers Association and a member of the Los Angeles County Bar, Family Law Section. The Los Angeles County Bar has stated that I am qualified to be a judge. I have also been very involved in my children’s schools , including the board of PTAs and an active volunteer and fundraiser. Education is very important to me. I also have coached AYSO soccer as one of the only women coaches at that time.

I have been a trial lawyer for those in federal and state courts in many parts of our nation. Ten years ago, I made a commitment to families in trouble. I became a family lawyer. Most will agree that this is a very challenging area of the law-one that takes patience, compassion and expertise. Part of my commitment stems from the joy and stability of my family. My husband, Richard, has been my partner for my entire career. My older daughter, Cassie and Diana are now both in college.

If the voters provide me with the privilege to serve, I will be a fair, patient, dynamic, and a scholarly judge, striving to serve the community and make Los Angeles proud of me.

Endorsements: Senator Sheila Kuehl, Mayor Nury Martinez, Mexican American Bar Association, Mexican American PAC, and the following Superior Court Judges: Honorable Judith Chirlin;; Honorable Mildred Escobedo; Honorable Jesse Rodriguez; Hon. Beverly Reid O’Connell; Honorable Peter Espinoza; Gabriel Gutierrez (former judge)..

CONTACT INFO AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO : MARIA RIVAS HAMAR FOR JUDGE, 9454 Wilshire Boulevard, Penthouse, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.Phone and Fax: (310)550460;fax(310)5500461;[email protected];www.divorcelosangeles-angel.com and www.smartvoter.org/vote/hamar

Larry Layton, Law School Professor
Judicial Candidate Office 144

(Larry declined to give a personal statement but asked that I post this address to his SmartVoter page)

www.smartvoter.org/vote/layton