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San Diego Judicial Candidate Accused Of Embellishing Credentials

Aired 4/3/14 on KPBS News.

A court hearing on whether San Diego Superior Court judicial candidate Ken Gosselin misrepresented his qualifications and should correct ballot language is scheduled for Thursday.

San Diego Superior Court judicial candidate Ken Gosselin is accused of misleading voters about his education, his experience and the kind of law he practices.

Fellow judicial candidate Brad Weinreb has filed court papers seeking an order to force Gosselin to change his ballot statement.

Earlier this year, Gosselin's campaign website stated he was Harvard Law School trained and a judge pro tem — a volunteer position in which attorneys fill in for sitting judges. Gosselin earned his law degree from La Verne University.

A screen grab of an earlier version of Ken Gosselin's website. He previously referred to himself as a "Harvard Law School trained San Diego County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem."

A screen grab of Ken Gosselin's website as of April 3, 2014. According to his site, Gosselin "received his legal education from the University of LaVerne College of Law and he is a Harvard Law School trained mediator."

Another version of that website stated that Gosselin received his legal education from Harvard and La Verne. Gosselin's ballot statement and now his campaign website say he's a Harvard Law School-trained mediator. His website also shows a Harvard Law School certificate for attending a mediation workshop there in 1999.

“Mr. Gosselin implies that he went to Harvard and matriculated; however, it appears that he attended a workshop in 1999 that did not require the rigorous admissions process of Harvard,” said Weinreb’s attorney, Adam Van Susteren.

Gosselin also claims in his candidate statement that as a judge pro tem he has presided over thousands of criminal and civil cases assigned by the Superior Court.

But Weinreb, one of Gosselin’s two opponents in the judicial race, said in court papers that Gosselin’s actual experience is limited to traffic and small-claims cases.

Weinreb is also challenging Gosselin’s assertion in his ballot designation worksheet that he is a constitutional law attorney when his own website says he has devoted his practice to real estate cases.

In an email declining comment, Gosselin wrote, "These types of misunderstandings are common in judicial elections and please remember that there is always two sides to every story.”

Former state bar prosecutor Art Margolis of Los Angeles said judicial candidates are bound by the same rules as sitting judges.

“A knowing misrepresentation would be a violation of the canons of ethics for judge candidates,” Margolis said.

A hearing on Weinreb’s accusations against Gosselin is scheduled for Thursday before a Superior Court judge. Weinreb is asking the court to order Gosselin to change his ballot statement.

Weinreb, Gosselin and a third candidate – lawyer Michele Hagan – will face off in the June 3 primary.

They are seeking a seat held by Superior Court Judge Cynthia Bashant, who President Barack Obama nominated for the federal bench last year.

How Many Candidates Are Running For Superior Court Judge?

Attorney Ken Gosselin is running for one of 48 San Diego Superior Court judgeships in the June 3 primary. He is seeking to replace Cynthia Bashant, who has been nominated for the federal bench. Also seeking Bashant's seat are Michele Hagan, an attorney and fraud examiner, and Brad Weinreb, a state deputy attorney general.

Only four other San Diego County judicial races are competitive. Judges seeking the remaining 43 offices are running unopposed, but their names will still appear on the ballot.

A full list of all 54 candidates is available on the San Diego County registrar of voters website.

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