Judging Judges By Their Statements
Two of the races I'm being asked to vote in at the June election are contested races for judge of the Superior Court. What do you look for when hiring a judge?
Based on his Voter Information Pamphlet statement, Garry Haehnle seems to think being "Law Enforcement's Choice" is an important attribute, while Paul Cooper claims to being "Police and Fire's Choice." Robert Faigin is proud of being endorsed by Sheriff Kolender as well as being "Law Enforcement's Choice", and Evan Kirvin wants you to know that his candidacy has been endorsed by organizations representing over 60,000 law enforcement officers.
Julie from San Diego
May 21, 2008 at 04:54 PM
I certainly agree with your concern. I would think that what we want in a judge is fairness and impartiality, but in nearly every judicial race, the candidates tout what tough prosecutors they have been or how much the police like them. It seems that someone with criminal defense experience will rarely even run. I agree that the other kinds of experience you mention are important, as well. The broader the range of law experience the better. Is it that the public really wants judges who go into cases biased toward the prosecution? Is it that people concerned about due process and "innocent until proven guilty" don't vote?
from San Diego
May 21, 2008 at 10:12 PM
Charles, Thank you for the comments regarding our candidate ballot statements. I am not sure if you are aware, but we were limited to 200 words in trying to to provide as much information for voters as we could. While I am proud to be endorsed by Sheriff Kolender, I am also proud to be endorsed by other prominent community members including Senator Hollingsworth and Assemblyman Joel Anderson. I have also been endorsed by Chief Deputy Public Defender Henry Coker. As for your concerns regarding breadth of experience, I was unable to fully indicated in my ballot statement, that I formerly had my own law firm, where I practiced in civil litigation, including family law, probate, bankruptcy and contracts. Lastly, regarding managment experience, I have been part of the Sheriff's managment team for the last seven years, and a Senior Deputy District Attorney before that. Most recently, I completed my Masters in Public Administration from Cal State Dominguez Hills, and am scheduled to attend the graduation ceremony tomorrow. I hope this information addresses some of your concerns in choosing a judge candidate for Dept - 45. If you would like additional information, please feel free to visit my website at www.votefaigin.com.
from Escondido, CA
May 22, 2008 at 08:49 PM
The concern wasn't as much about breadth of experience as it was the focus on certain experience, with the presumption of which experiences were most important to the voters. Care to expand on why you made the choices you did in editing your statement?
from San Diego, CA
May 23, 2008 at 12:13 AM
Chuck, I am happy to expand on the choices I made in editing my ballot statement. Keeping in mind that I had only 200 words to work with in order to communicate that I am the most qualified for Office 45, I chose to begin with the statement that I am the "only candidate seving as a San Diego County Superior Court Temporary Judge." I felt it was important for voters to know that I am currently qualified and doing the job on a temporary basis. Next, since voters have overwhelminging shown their approval of Sheriff Kolender as our sheriff, I wanted them to know that the person that they have elected four times believes that I would be a "fair and effective judge." I then chose to provide some professional experience, including my current work assignment for the Sheriff, and my former experience as a Senior Deputy District Attorney, because I thought it was important to advise voters that I do actually have legal experience. About midway through my ballot statement I indicated that I was endorsed by various law enforcement organizations, which I thought was important to help advise the voters that groups I work with also support me. I also tried to summarize other endorsements including teachers, judges, and police officers to show that I have a broad range of support from my community. The next paragraph was put in to distinguish myself from my opponent. Specifically, that I am qualified today to be a judge, and that I have a broad range of experience. Finally, I included some personal information about my family and community involvement to help voters get a sense of who I am outside of my professional life. I hope that gives you some insight into why I chose the information that I did. I had plenty more to say, but given the 200 word limit, I had to choose those things that I thought would provide the most information to the voters in the fewest amount of words. I hope that answers your question. I appreciate the opportunity to talk a little about my ballot statement.