Bar Association Responds to Gary Kreep's Threatened Lawsuit
Newly elected San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep narrowly defeated county prosecutor Garland Peed in the Primary election on June 5, 2012. Since then, he has caught national attention for his belief that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is fake.
During an interview on KPBS Evening Edition on June 20, 2012, Kreep responded to this press release by calling the San Diego County Bar Association "bigoted."
Kreep said his role as a national leader of the "birther" movement is not relevant to his appointment as judge, but that his stance on other issues led the association to state he is "lacking qualifications" to be a judge.
"They did it on the basis that you can't be pro-life and you can't oppose same-sex marriage and be a judge, that's what they told me," Kreep said. "That's a religiously bigoted statement, which will be further investigated by me, and I'm going to move forward on that because that is discrimination."
Kreep said he was going to take action against the bar association.
President of the San Diego County Bar Association, Marvin Mizell, came on KPBS' "Evening Edition" on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, to respond to Kreep's threatened lawsuit.
"I have not received any information from my committee that would make me think there's something that would be the basis of a claim," Mizell said. "We do believe that this process was fair and unbiased."
Mizell said the SD County Bar Association has not heard directly from Kreep since he was elected.
"Since 1978, some 34 years, the County Bar has fairly and accurately evaluated candidates for contested judicial elections," Mizell said. "The first thing to remember is that the candidates are not judged against each other in the same race. They're actually looked at individually by the committee."
The rating committee is made up of 21 people who Mizell said makes up a "fair cross-section of the legal community."
"You have civil and criminal practitioners, you have government and non-government attorneys, as well as a fair cross-section of how long they've been practicing," he said.
The committee takes 19 factors into account when rating judges, some of which include temperament, intellect, ability and knowledge of the law.
"Political belief or religious belief are not included," Mizell said. "We have never evaluated someone based on political or religious belief, and that did not happen here."
The reasons behind Kreep's "lacking qualifications" rating are kept confidential from the public. The judges, however, do get to see the reasons behind their rating, and anyone who receives a "lacking qualifications" rating has a right to appeal.
Mizell said that Kreep did appeal his rating in front of the entire committee.
Of the seven candidates that the SD County Bar Association reviewed, two of them received the rating of "lacking qualifications." Mizell said that in recent history, no judge receiving a "lacking qualifications" rating has been elected, until now.
"That's why we do what we do," Mizell said. "To try to educate the public because there's usually very little information on judicial candidates."