Chief Justice George’s Memoir Still Gets Noticed

It made some headlines when it was published a few months back, but now some of the long-lead publications are writing about former state Chief Justice Ron George’s “oral self-history” entitled Chief: The Quest for Justice in California. And it’s not always pretty, with a good example coming from the City Journal.
After noting that not that many people pay attention to the court system, the Journal says “… but George’s story is significant if only as an illustration of judicial hubris, of how power breeds arrogance, and of how a desire for respect from the establishment leads to activism from the bench.” The piece is written by Mark Pulliam, familiar to many in the courts community for his work as legal issues writer for the California Political Review.
It’s a good take on the “King George” book, and you can read it here

South Asian PAC Alleges Racism In L.A. Judge’s Elections

The MetNews is playing it calmly, but a new South Asian Bar Association Political Action Committee is not being shy about alleging racial bias against judges of South Asian decent. Noting that the PAC is “separate” from the bar association, its organizers point to the 2012 race between Judge Sanjay Kumar and Kim Smith, a Hawthorne Deputy City Attorney.
PAC organizers say that despite Smith being rated as “not qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Association and Kumar being rated “exceptionally well qualified,” the race was closer than they thought it should be. In fact, an attorney and PAC organizer is quoted by MetNews as saying that “… the South Asian community was shocked that this happened.”
The group has reportedly been raising money in SoCal and in San Francisco to warn the community of the “political challenges” faced by the situation.  Read the MetNews story here

Famous Judge Ito May Not Seek Re-Election

The Metropolitan News Enterprise is posting an “unconfirmed report” that L.A. Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, of O.J. Simpson trial fame, has not filed to seek another term. If that’s true, it will give the famous judge another chance to comment on the justice system; he’s not been shy in the past.
For example, in 2012 Ito made written comments accusing the state’s Administrative Office of Courts (AOC) of having adopted a “circle the wagons mentality,” when what it should to is to acknowledge that it “has been run in a deceptive, vindictive and manipulative manner” and get about the business of reform (from the MetNews).
The website has a rundown of current court races, with about 30 candidates participating in 11 elections. Thursday was the first deadline for filing to seek a judicial seat, but the election will not be wet until next week because an automatic deadline extension went into effect for about a dozen seats where no incumbent filed for re-election.
See the report and a rundown on who is running at MetNews.

Superior Court Judicial Election Deadline Looms, At Least 11 Seats Expected To Be ‘Open’

ANDREW M. STEIN, photo from his firm's website:

ANDREW M. STEIN, photo from his firm’s website:

A veteran criminal defense attorney and civil rights plaintiff-side attorney intends to buck the prosecutors trend in the upcoming Los Angeles Superior Court election, considering one of “at least 11” open seats to avoid running against an incumbent judge, the MetNews is reporting. The news site noted that Andrew M. Stein said he made the decision to run after eliciting a substantial positive response from “friends, relatives, and colleagues,” including a number of judges, whom he queried by email as to whether he should run.
The MetNews added that “… noting that all of the non-incumbents who had filed declarations of intent as ofThursday were deputy district attorneys, Stein said: ‘I love a lot of D.A.s and I have great respect for a lot of D.A.s. But I looked at who was running and they don’t have nearly the experience I have.'”
Stein is a sole practitioner and thus lacks the support that comes from a large firm, and the MetNews said that a successful campaign is likely to cost $350,000 or more.This week is a filing deadline that should make it clear which judicial seats are open. You can read the MetNews report, and bookmark it to follow the judicial race, here.

L.A. Supervisors Face Juvenile Justice Issue

A juvenile policy attorney and former public defender has an opinion piece making the rounds that makes a great argument for increasing funding to the Los Angeles juvenile justice system, but for once the issue is up to county officials instead of the wise ones in Sacramento. Carol Chodroff explains how the current attorney appointment scheme relies on a flat-fee contract that seems nearly designed for poor outcomes.
In her piece, which has appeared in both the Huffington Post and CityWatch, she reports that “… Los Angeles has one of the largest juvenile justice systems in the world, processing approximately 20,000 youths annually. About 11,000 of these youths are ineligible for representation by the public defender because of a conflict of interest. They are represented instead by appointed panel attorneys who receive a flat fee of approximately $350 for the life of a case, regardless of its complexity.
The bad news from this is that “… this perverse compensative scheme penalizes panel attorneys for doing the work required to zealously represent youthful clients. The resulting arbitrary and disparate treatment of children in the Los Angeles juvenile delinquency system is destructive, expensive, and unconstitutional.” But she also notes  that the good news is “… next week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hear an important motion introduced by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to examine and recommend improvements to the delinquency representation system. The Board of Supervisors should pass this critical motion.”
You can read her argument in support of the county motion, via CityWatch, here.