Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Los Angeles Superior Court Judicial Candidates - Lack of Seats Lamented, Conspiracy Theories Abound

The 2014 Judicial Elections saw 14 open seats and 1 contested race result in 13 Deputy District Attorneys, 1 Superior Court Commissioner and 1 Deputy City Attorney elected to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. It was unprecedented in terms of the number of open seats, and the number of Deputy District Attorneys who succeeded in their run for robes - 3 of whom were elected unopposed, the remaining 10 won handily in the June 2014 Primary. It was also a huge victory for Judicial Election Campaign Guru Strategist David Gould who represented most of the victors.

It all seemed a little too easy and caused many to believe that the 2016 Judicial elections could see an even bigger field of candidates vying for an equally large number of open seats. That does not appear to be the case. There are, perhaps, 23 candidates who have expressed an interest in running, but the big surprise (or disappointment) is the very small number of open seats; 4 or 5 at best.

Rumors abound as the the reason for the low number of open seats in this election cycle. In 2014 it was rumored that the 14 sitting judges who announced their retirements, timed their announcements deliberately to deny Governor Brown the ability to appoint their replacements. This was seen as "payback" either for Brown's slashing of the LA Superior Court budget, or criticism of his 'eclectic' choice of appointees, or both.

And so to the rumor mill now churning regarding the reason for the low number of 2016 open seats - that Judges considering retirement have been 'prevailed upon' to time their retirements in such a way as to restore Governor Brown's appointment powers and thereby restore the somewhat 'crusty' relationship between the LA Superior Court the Governor, and thereby restore much needed funding to the Court - he who holds the budget strings, etc. There's also a certain amount of criticism as to performance of a few of the 2014 elected judges; while most have proven to be excellent judges garnering glowing reviews in legal journals, others have not done so well (I'm sure the comments section will fill in those details.)

Governor Brown, for his part, has no real reason to be miffed by the results of the 2014 election. Since that time he has appointed no less than 38 Judges to the LA County Superior Court, 34 of which are up for election in June, and have not yet drawn a challenge. So perhaps any desire to reign in the number of open seats emanates from Los Angeles, rather than in Sacramento. Or perhaps the whole thing is mere coincidence.

Whatever the reason for the low number of open seats, the Wednesday, February 10, 2016 deadline to file declarations of intent to run will likely see a very crowded race, and some ugly clashes between candidates who have cashed in their retirement accounts to fuel a robust campaign, estimated to be somewhere in the region of $250k.

So here's the current state of the 2016 Judicial Race:

Office Number 11 - Open

When Judge Michelle Rosenblatt (not to be confused with Judge Marsha Revel - see Office Number 34 below) failed to file her Declaration of Intent on the first day of filing (February 1), it was at first thought that she was going to file later in the week. At 63, she's not necessarily in the retirement zone. However, the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported that she was, indeed, retiring, and Deputy District Attorneys Debra Archuleta and Javier Perez quickly filed for her seat, as did Superior Court Commissioner Cyndy Zuzga. All three are represented by Gould, creating a problem as Gould will not represent candidates who run against each other. The problem may have been partly solved by Perez also filing for Office 84 (see below). Zuzga, who has also filed for Office 120 (see below), told the Met News that she hoped Gould "works his magic" and and finds her another seat. It appears that Archuleta will remain in this race and not contest Office 34 (see below), and will likely face a challenge or challenges from other candidates who, as we go to press, have not yet designated their seat.

Office 34 - Not In Play

Judge Marsha Revel also did not file her Declaration of Intent on the first day of filing. The respected jurist has had a long and distinguished career on the bench, but no rumor anywhere suggested she was ready to hang up her robes. However, rumor had it that a female judge, with the initials "MR" was going to retire, and according the the Met News, there may have been some confusion between Judges Marsha Rosenblatt and Michelle Revel, leading to Deputy District Attorneys Steven Schreiner and Debra Archuleta to file papers for Judge Revel's seat. Neither Archuleta nor Schreiner had any intention of running against Judge Revel. Archuleta has now filed for Office 11 (above) and Schreiner, who ran unsuccessfully in 2014, is likely to file for a different open seat.

Office Number 42 - Open

Deputy District Attorney Susan Jung-Townsend was an early filer for Judge Alan Rosenfield's seat, taking out Signature in Lieu of filing fee papers on January 22, 2016 to stake her claim to what appears to be an open seat in the absence of Rosenfield's filing a declaration of intent. Rosenfield has not issued a statement confirming or denying his retirement, however, it is widely believe he is indeed leaving the bench. Thus far, Jung has yet to draw a challenger; hardly surprising as she is a formidable candidate who is well financed. Although she has been seeking appointment for some time, she has likely become frustrated by the vagaries of the appointment process, which some believe does not favor LA County Deputy District Attorneys. Regardless of the strength of her candidacy, given the number of as yet unseated candidates, Jung-Townsend will likely face at least one challenger by the time filing closes on February 10.

Office Number 60 - Not Open, but possibly In Play

According to the Met News, Sherman Oaks attorney Stepan Baghdassarian took out Signature in Lieu papers indicating he was going to run for Judge James Kaddo's seat. Baghdassarian declined to give the Met News any reason why he had chosen Kaddo's seat, and also would not say whether or not he would actually run. Judge Kaddo has had a long career on the bench, he was appointed to the Municipal Court in 1991, and later drew sharp criticism from the Met News over his campaign for a seat on the Superior Court. He was also the subject of somewhat messy controversy in 2004.  He currently sits in Dept. I at Van Nuys East (civil) and has filed papers indicating his intention to seek reelection. It is unknown whether Baghdassarian's filing arises from a courtroom clash with the veteran jurist similar to that leading to then Deputy DA Carol Najera's 2014 run against sitting Judge James B. Pierce.

Office Number 84 - Open, Possibly

Judge Kathleen O. Diesman's failure to file her Declaration of Intent to seek reelection last week appears to have fueled beliefs that she may be retiring, at least that appears to be the case as Deputy District Attorneys Philip Marshall and Javier Perez filed papers Friday February 5, to run for her seat. Judge Diesman, a distinguished former Deputy DA, was appointed to the bench in 2008, and currently sits in Dept 27 at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. No statement has been made regarding whether she is indeed retiring, or why. Both Marshal and Perez are clients of David Gould, suggesting there is something of a conflict to be resolved in this race as to who will have access to Gould's valuable slates. If indeed Judge Diesman is retiring, it is likely that one or other of the thus far unseated candidates will enter this race.

Office Number 109 - Not In Play

Judge Gus Sztraicher (pronounced 'striker') was appointed by Governor Brown in June 2014. He has, by all accounts, been an excellent judge drawing praise from all sides siting in Dept 48 of the CJC. He must therefore have been somewhat surprised to hear that Woodland Hills attorney Michael Ribons had filed Signature in Lieu papers for his seat. The Met News reported that Ribons, who practices real estate and business litigation, was told by the LA County Recorder/Registrar's Office that he had to pick an Office to run for when he filed his papers, and that he could change the seat later. Ribons told the Met News that he chose number 109 at random, and does not intend to run against the incumbent. Nevertheless, Sztraicher is leaving nothing to chance and has recently launched a reelection campaign website and has a FaceBook page at
Office Number 120 - Open

The Met News reported that Judge Ray Santana would likely not seek reelection based on a colleague's comments regarding health issues. Deputy District Attorneys Efrain Aceves and Fred Mesropi filed papers for the seat, as did Superior Court Commissioner Cyndy Zuzga and sole practitioner Eric Ibis. Aceves is represented by David Gould, as is Zuzga - a situation where Zuzga hopes Gould can "work his magic" and find here another seat, however, that's looking increasingly less likely given the paucity of seats. Aceves had a brief judicial campaign in 2014, but dropped out for reasons given to the Met News. According to the Net News, Mesropi has hired Cerrell Associates as his consultant, and Ibisi has hired Jasper Jackson who has previously handled local and legislative campaigns. Aceves is a formidable candidate, with strong backing, a solid record, and experience in local politics.

Office Number 158 - Open, Hopefully

Judge Elden Fox was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1991, having previously served as a distinguished Los Angeles County Deputy DA from 1974-1991. His many years of experience has earned him the respect of prosecutors and defense attorneys alike who appreciate his rulings as much as his quick wit and sense of humor. With so many years of service under his belt, many expected Judge Fox to retire. Indeed the Met News reported that while the veteran jusrist could not be reached for comment, a source said that he had “only told about 300 people” that he was going to retire. Accordingly, Deputy District Attorney David Berger (aka Joe Friday) filed Signature in Lieu papers for Judge Fox's seat on January 27, 2016 and Deputy Attorney General Kim Nguyen filed her papers on February 1, 2016. Surprisingly, Judge Fox filed his Declaration of Intent on February 3, 2106. It remains to be seen whether Judge Fox will retire, as one observer put it "Judge Fox may be retiring, the question is when." Adding fuel to the rumor mill is speculation that if indeed there is an edict to defer retirement from the bench until after the election, Judge Fox may complying in order to be able to sit on assignment in the future. Berger is represented by David Gould with Nguyen having the services of Parke Skelton through her husband Mike Shimpock. Nguyen has said she will not run against Judge Fox, Berger has hinted that he will, stating "In an ideal world, there would be plenty of open seats, but it is not an ideal world." he said, adding "It's a good time for Judge Fox to enjoy some time away from the bench." If Judge Fox bows out of the fray, the battle between Berger and Nguyen will likely be interesting, with Berger vying to be the first English-American Judge in Los Angeles, and Nguyen seeking to be the only actively serving Vietnamese-American Judge on the local trial bench, according to her website, the Met News reported.

Other known candidates yet to nominate a seat (listed alphabetically):
  • Deputy District Attorney Alfred Colleta, a 27 year veteran of the DA's Office, recently launched his campaign and has retained David Gould as consultant.
  • Susan Jerich, an attorney representing police officers and firefighters in civil, administrative and criminal matters, has retained David Gould as consultant.
  • Naser Khoury, a former Deputy DA currently practicing civil and criminal law, has been running his own campaign for some time and is widely liked and respected.
  • Sydne S. Michel, an attorney for the City of Redondo Beach, recently launched her campaign and has retained David Gould as her consultant. Despite the lack of open seats, it is understood that Michel is pressing forward with a planned fundraiser in the South Bay area on March 3, 2016. In all likelihood, Michel will pick a race by the close of filing on February 10, 2016.
  • Deputy District Attorney Taly Peretz was one of the first to start her campaign last year, retaining David Gould as her consultant.
  • Andrew Stein, a renowned and revered defense attorney, run for judge in 2014, winning a place in the November runoff election, but ultimately losing out to then Deputy City Attorney Thomas Griego. Stein has been actively pursuing his candidacy ever since, and has said he would prefer a race that did not pitch him against a prosecutor. That does not appear to be an option in this election cycle.
  • Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stodel launched his campaign last year, retaining David Gould as his consultant.
  • Aaron Weissman, a business litigation attorney with Century City-based Novian & Novian, launched his campaign over a year ago, and was hoping to find an open seat.
Of the eight races above, four appear to be definitely open (11, 42, 84, and 120), two more (60 and 158) may see a battle between a sitting judge and challengers, and the remaining two (34 and 109) will likely not be on the ballot, the putative challengers having dropped out of those races.

21 confirmed candidates are chasing between 4 and 6 seats (there were 28 candidates for 15 seats in 2014), meaning that few, if any, of the races will be decided in the June primary, and in all likelihood most races will be decided in a runoff election in November, a far cry from 2014 when all but 2 of the 15 races were decided at the primary.


Monday, February 1, 2016

ADDA Board Elections - Members Urged to Vote for Slate

The Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys has seen a dramatic transformation since President Marc Debbaudt assumed the helm and followed through on his campaign promise to lead the ADDA away from the acrimonious, self-serving 'crazy days' of former 'leaders' Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman.

Another of Debbaudt's promises was to lead the ADDA away from its unholy affiliation with big labor. He succeeded in kicking out AFSCME, ending a shot-gun marriage in hell orchestrated by Ipsen/Seligam that cost members dearly as AFSCME did nothing but suck money from members and providing nothing in return - unless you count admittedly excellent sandwiches at meetings and photocopying services.    

Few would doubt that today's ADDA is infinitely more representative of the rank and file members and dedicated to the well-being of all, rather than the personal agendas of the few. Debbaudt now proposes to follow through on another promise - to allow the members to elect new leaders to continue the true mission of the ADDA - to cooperatively and effectively represent the needs and interests of its members. To that end, Debbaudt is urging members to vote for a slate of new leaders who share that goal.

Members wishing to follow Debbaudt's recommendation should complete their ballots as above.
If ADDA members follow Debbaudt's recommendation and 'vote the slate,' the new Board of Directors will likely be the most effective board in recent history; far better able to work with the administration cooperatively and meaningfully towards improving conditions for the rank and file.

For what it's worth, the Dragnet endorses 'the slate.'


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ADDA's New Bylaws - A Change For The Better

The Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys has been through difficult times in recent years. Few remember the days when the ADDA was a happy helpful group of volunteers who held social events and sold ADDA merchandise at Saturday seminars. That ADDA exemplified what was the strength of those who forsake the lure of private practice, and instead enjoyed the esprit de corps that made, and continues to make public service at the LA County District Attorney's Office the most rewarding of career choices.

It probably never occurred to those who founded the ADDA that the organization they established to promote the well-being of their loyal, hard-working and selfless colleagues could be hijacked by self-serving malcontents; embittered lack-luster losers who took advantage of a lack of involvement in the running of the ADDA to grasp power, and then played fast and loose with the rules to promote their personal agendas at the expense of the vast majority of DDAs. 

Those days have passed. They must never return again. Under the leadership of current ADDA President Marc Debbaudt and other Board Members who stepped up to the plate to undo the damage Steve Ipsen and Hyatt Seligman did, they have taken on the might of 'Big Labor' AFSCME and divorced us from the unholy marriage that Ipsen and Seligman brokered, and they have worked hard to build an effective working relationship with the District Attorney and her administration. This is the new ADDA, and it's one that DDAs can be proud of.

Debbaudt now asks the 500 plus ADDA fee-paying members to approve a new set of Bylaws; a set of rules that will not allow a Ipsen or Seligman clone to again use the ADDA as the launchpad for their pathetic self-serving purposes. The new Bylaws have been distributed to all fee-paying member and awaits approval. That approval should be a 'no brainer,' but some have raised issues with the new rules. Members on various email lists have had their mailboxes stuffed with lengthy, sometimes eye-rolling missives pointing out defects or deficiencies in the new rules. Some of the issues raised are valid and were adopted, but others are purely obstructionist, or contemplate unlikely 'End of Days' scenarios.

The bottom line is that no set of rules is ever perfect. Rules are only as good as the people who are trusted to follow them. Marc Debbaudt has done more to earn the trust of DDAs than any of his predecessors, and voting for the new Bylaws is as much a referendum and vote of approval for the Debbaudt's leadership, as it is an assurance that the ADDA will never return to the Kafkaesque dark days of the Ipsen-Seligman era.

It only takes a simple majority of approval votes to pass the new Bylaws, and many who have received them may not even bother to return their voting cards. But remember, just as rules alone will not guard against major assholes like Ispen, an active and engaged membership will keep the dark forces at bay. Vote for the new Bylaws and send a message to the ADDA that you approve their leadership and the direction they're taking.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Large Field of Candidates Expected for 2016 Race for Robes

First look at who's running for Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2016

The June 7, 2016 Primary Election promises to be a blockbuster in terms of the number of candidates seeking a seat on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. As many as 17 candidates have thus far expressed their intentions to run for robes, vying for 6 likely open seats. At least 9 Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys are confirmed as candidates, with 2 others expected to announce shortly. The remaining 6 comprise a Superior Court Commissioner, a Deputy Attorney General, a Deputy City Attorney, and 3 attorneys. In the 2014 Judicial elections, 28 candidates threw their hats in the ring, so expect the numbers to rise early in the New Year, ahead of the February filing period.

Here's what we know about the DDAs who have formally staked a place in the race for robes:
Note: Candidates listed below appear in alphabetical order. The order in which they appear is not an indication of any ranking or rating.

Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves

Aceves first ran for robes in the 2014 election; it was a crowded contest for Seat No. 48 with no less than 5 candidates seeking to replace retiring Judge Ronald Sohigian. Aceves subsequently withdrew his candidacy citing fears that the race “may end up injecting even more politics into a judicial race that I feel should be above partisan politics,” - a statement believed to refer to the controversial candidacy of then opponent Charles Calderon, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported. Currently serving as a Calendar Deputy at the Norwalk Office, Aceves has 17 years service at the DA's Office and 2 years as a Federal Probation officer to his credit.  

With the experience of his 2014 run behind him, Aceves staked an early and solid claim for his 2016 campaign with October kick-off event showing strong backing.

Aceves' campaign website is:

 Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta

Archuleta was the first DDA to announce her candidacy in January 2015. She has approached the task of traveling the campaign trail with the same thoroughness and tenacity that established her reputation as an experienced and seasoned prosecutor, scoring the kind of support and endorsement needed for an effective campaign. Currently serving as a Trial Deputy in the White Collar Crime Division, Archuleta's previous experience in Hardcore Gangs, Family Violence and the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team evinces a depth of experience in her 25 years with the DA's Office that makes her a formidable candidate. Archulata's campaign is managed by David Gould who is widely recognized as the leading expert on successful judicial campaigns.

Archuleta's campaign website is:
Like her on Facebook at:

 Deputy District Attorney David Berger

Berger announced his campaign the day after Archuleta and, as the Met News reported, has similarly retained David Gould as his consultant. Like many of the other DDA candidates, Berger is endorsed by District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian. By the time of the 2016 election, Berger will have had 20 years experience at the DA's Office, having started as a Certified Law Clerk and progressing through Salaried Law Clerk to Deputy District Attorney. Berger's prior experience with the DA's Office includes assignments in Gangs, Major Frauds, and Healthcare Fraud. Currently Berger serves as a Calendar and Trial Deputy at the Airport Courthouse, trying violent felonies in the Hon. Judge Elden S. Fox's courtroom. Coincidentally, Berger's first assignment as a DDA was at the Beverly Hills Courthouse as Calendar and Trial Deputy in Judge Fox's courtroom. Judge Fox has also endorsed Berger's candidacy. Controversially, Berger took a brief break from the DA's Office in 2009 to serve at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, returning to the DA's Office for reasons well documented on the Dragnet.

Just to be clear, Berger is "Joe Friday," author of this blog.                             

Berger's campaign website is :
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Susan Jung-Townsend

Jung-Townsend launched her campaign in June 2015, also managed by David Gould. A 17 year veteran of the DA's Office, Jung-Townsend currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the Auto Insurance Fraud Division of the White Collar Crime Division. A well-respected and accomplished prosecutor, Jung-Townsend has an impressive list of endorsements to support a strong campaign.

Jung-Townsend's campaign website is :
Like her on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Philip Marshall

Marshall recently launched his campaign and has secured the services of David Gould as manager. An 18 year veteran of the DA's Office, Marshall currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the Major Narcotics Division, listing prior experience prosecuting serious and violent felonies on his campaign website. Marshall will kick-off his fundraising at 5pm on January 21, 2016 at Justice Urban Tavern in Downtown Los Angeles.

Marshall's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Taly Peretz

Peretz, an early announcer along with Archuleta and Berger,  also secured David Gould to manage her campaign. A 16 year veteran of the DA's Office, Peretz currently serves in the elite Hardcore Gang Division having prosecuted over 70 jury trials.

Peretz's campaign website is:

Deputy District Attorney Javier Perez

Perez recently launched his campaign and has also secured the services of David Gould as manager. With over 25 years experience at the DA's Office, Perez currently serves as Deputy In Charge at the West Covina Courthouse - probably the busiest courthouse in the County of Los Angeles, excluding the Downtown Criminal Justice Center. Perez's prior prosecutorial experience is extensive having served in Environmental Crimes, Gangs, and Major Narcotics.

Perez's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner

Schreiner, like Aceves, first ran for robes in 2014, but was unlucky to find himself in a bitterly fought 3-way battle for Office No. 87, ultimately losing out in the Primary Election to rivals attorney Andrew Stein and Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego. Griego subsequently won the November run-off election and currently sits as Judge of the Superior Court  at Inglewood.

As we go to press, Schreiner's "rumored to be running" status changed to "running" when we learned that he has filed papers for the 2016 elections and recently held a kick-off event. Based on the phone number on file at the Secretary of State's website, it appears that Schreiner has retained David Gould as his campaign manager. A 27 year veteran of the DA's Office, Schreiner currently serves as Calendar and Trial Deputy at the Norwalk Courthouse. Unless Schreiner is unlucky to find himself in again in a battle with opponents with questionable ballot designations, Schreiner should be a strong candidate.

Schreiner's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stodel

Stodel is another recent candidate for Judge of the Superior Court, and has also secured the services of David Gould as campaign manager. A 16 year veteran of the DA's Office, Stodel currently serves as a Trial Deputy in the White Collar Crime Division, listing extensive prior experience in Gangs, Child Molestation and violent crimes. In 2009 Stodel was the recipient of  the prestigious "Deputy District Attorney of the Month" award for his successful prosecutions of three individuals who brutally tortured and murdered a man in the San Fernando Valley.

Stodel's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

That's 9 DDAs confirmed to be running, in case you've lost count. Also rumored to be about to be running are Deputy District Attorneys Alfred Coletta, and perhaps, Helen Kim.

The 6 known non-Deputy District Attorney candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Attorney Naser Khoury

Khoury, a well-known and respected criminal defense attorney, announced his campaign in September 2015. A former Deputy District Attorney, before entering private practice, Khoury has been campaigning aggressively and appears to be using social media effectively to mount his challenge.

Khoury's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Deputy City Attorney Sydne S. Michel

Sydne S. Michel is a Senior Deputy at the Redondo Beach City Attorney's Office. The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise first mentioned Michel's candidacy in their August 31, 2015 "End of the Month" column. Since then Michel has filed papers for her candidacy. As yet we have not been able to locate a campaign website for her.

Deputy Attorney General Kim Nguyen

Ngyuen is a "Deputy Attorney General responsible for representing constitutional officers and statewide agencies in lawsuits involving election law challenges, constitutional challenges, state mandates, and the State’s General Fund," according to her campaign website. She has been an attorney for 15 years and since filing papers in July 2015, has drawn wide support for her campaign garnering an impressive list of endorsements, most notably including those of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and fellow Harvard graduate Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. Nguyen's campaign disclosure statement lists Steve Kaufman as her Treasurer, however, it is believed that the handiwork of revered political consultant Parke Skelton's organization is steering the campaign. Nguyen's political connections make her a "formidable opponent" according to those in the know, but also poses the question; with such powerful connections, why is she not being considered for appointment by Governor Brown?

Nguyen's campaign website is:

Attorney Andrew Stein

(Stein's campaign website has been edited to include a photo of the candidate)

Stein clashed with Schreiner and Greigo for Office No 87 in 2014, winning a place in the run-off, but ultimately losing out to Griego after Stein's creative "Gang Homicide Attorney" ballot designation was successfully challenged by Griego ahead of the run-off.

Stein's Facebook page states he is set on another run in the 2016 race, and his 2014 campaign website states "We will be back soon," so we expect to see Stein filing papers in the near future. Stein has been an attorney for 37 years and is a former Criminal Bar Association President, a significant factor likely to garner him substantial support for his campaign.

Stein's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

Attorney Aaron Weissman

Weissman launched his campaign in March 2015, and appears to be running his own campaign with the assistance of Crummitt & Associates to handle political reporting requirements. According to his campaign website, he has been an attorney for 34 years and lists experience as Judge Pro Tem in addition to a private practice spanning "criminal, real estate, landlord-tenant, personal injury, probate, workers’ compensation and family law matters."

Weissman's campaign website is:
Like him on Facebook at:

 Superior Court Commissioner Cynthia Zuzga

Zuzga's run for robes was announced in the Met News in September 2015. Prior to becoming a Commissioner, Zuzga was a respected 22 year veteran of the DA's Office, something that has garnered her the endorsement of her former boss, retired Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. Zuzga has retained David Gould as her campaign consultant.

Zuzga's campaign website is: 
Like her on Facebook at:

LA County Deputy District Attorneys did well in the 2014 elections, which doubtless explains why so many have made the early decision to launch their campaigns. Another reason, of course, is that the appointment route appears to be futile for LA County DDAs; Governor Brown has been demonstrably reluctant to appoint DDAs in LA County; Brown recently announced the appointment of 7 Superior Court Judges in LA County, not one was a Deputy District Attorney. But the apparent ease at which many DDAs won their seats on the Superior Court in 2014 may be misleading. Open seats may be hard to find, resulting in the awkwardness of DDAs running against each other. Added to the mix is the coincidence of the Presidential Primary, which will likely see less attention being paid to Judicial elections in the media.

If the field seems crowded now, expect the number of candidates to grow as the February 2016 filing period approaches. Zuzga is, thus far, the only Superior Court Commissioner to have announced her candidacy, however, if past experience is anything to go by, there will be others. Deputy City Attorneys too, are likely to field campaigns, doubtless encouraged by Judge Griego's success.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

LADA Confidential Launches

It seems that the recent silence of the Dragnet has left many without a sounding board to air their views. Whether it was the DA Election, the ADDA's struggle to free itself from the 'old guard,' or the dual disasters of AB109 and Prop 47, DDAs clearly had opinions. Sometimes those opinions were aired on the Dragnet, more often than not, many failed to see the light of day due to 'moderation.'

DDA Michael Fern has take the bold step to give DDAs a place to air their views, share information, and communicate. Fern has launched

Fern, who revamped the ADDA's website, promises a secure environment for DDAs (I-IV only), where a free exchange of news and views can take place. Use of the website is free, but subject to terms and conditions that users can view prior to joining.

DDAs can sign up for a user account at Let the posting begin!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Life After AFSCME - ADDA excels free from AFSCME

It's been just over three months since the Association of Deputy District Attorneys' historic vote to fire AFSCME; the 'big labor little support' organization that had redefined the the word 'underperformance' by providing nothing in return for three years of members' dues.

The news that rocked and shocked; big labor group AFSCME given its marching orders
by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.
The organized labor world was shocked when news of the overwhelming rejection of AFSCME became known. Rarely, if ever, does a David beat a big labor Goliath but that's what happened on January 7, 2015. 

ADDA President Marc Debbaudt selected an independent CPA firm to conduct
the count of members' votes, preventing accusations of voting fraud.
When the votes were counted, 143 deputy district attorneys voted to kick out AFSCME, with only 65 voting to remain tithed. They were, perhaps foolishly persuaded by AFSCME's promises of better pay, better pensions, and generally the same bunch of empty promises that has been the 'AFSCME experience' for both the ADDA and other labor groups who found themselves caught in the AFSCME trap - all talk and no action, except for AFSCME's vampire-like addiction to members' dues.

The skeptics and naysayers who were, perhaps, amongst the 65 who voted to remain affiliated with AFSCME pointed to the dire consequences of firing AFSCME; the ADDA would be unable to manage the complicated business of negotiating working conditions, maintaining communications, and representing members with grievances.

Three months later and the naysayers are, perhaps, having a hard time adjusting to the reality of life after AFSCME. The ADDA is stronger, more active and certainly more communicative than it was under AFSCME's regime. Long gone is the bullshit-ridden diatribe that characterized the ADDA under its former woefully inadequate 'leadership' - the Steve Ipsen - Hyatt Seligman era when the ADDA seemed to serve only the interests of a few.

That the ADDA has taken a new direction and has actually achieved more in three month than in three years of AFSCME is not altogether surprising given AFSCME's appalling track record. Let's not forget that under AFSCME over $1m in members' dues were seemingly sucked into a black hole. AFSCME's promises of better pay and working conditions were always just around the corner, and all the ADDA had to show for the money was a photocopier, a monthly meeting place and (admittedly superior) sandwiches.

Worse, while held hostage under AFSCME's jackboot, the ADDA - a law enforcement oriented organization, had to suffer the indignity of being associated with AFSCME's foolish and politically motivated support for Proposition 47, the voter initiative that many believe will increase crime in Los Angeles even more that Governor Brown's so-called realignment (AB109) that is is largely responsible for 2014's 14.3% increase in violent crime. In one of AFSCME's many broken promises, AFSCME had undertaken not to involve itself in political campaigns that did not have a labor-related issue. Despite that promise, and despite the ADDA's open opposition to Prop 47, AFSCME supported Prop 47 - a something that has no labor-related objective, and is by any analysis a threat to public safety.

If AFSCME's public safety betrayal wasn't bad enough, at least it was overt. But the Dragnet exposed a covert AFSCME betrayal in October 2014, when it became known that AFSCME falsely represented that the ADDA supported an attempt to poach members represented by the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA) at a secret meeting. One of the people AFSCME sent to that secret meeting was Tris Carpenter. He was the ADDA's 'business representative,' supplied by AFSCME, with his salary paid for by ADDA member dues. Yet Carpenter attended this secret meeting without the permission, consent, or knowledge of the ADDA. His goal at this secret meeting was to try to convince PPOA members that AFSCME could do a better job representing them. A clear case of poaching, and laughably false given the experience the ADDA had with AFSCME.

ADDA President Marc Debbaudt called out AFSCME for improperly using
its 'business representative' Tris Carpenter to misrepresent ADDA support for AFSCME

The horror story that was three years of AFSCME's expensive, unrepresentative and duplicitous 'affiliation' ended on January 7, 2015. That it ended was largely due to the efforts of ADDA President Marc Debbaudt, who had the courage and commitment to stand up to AFSCME.

Since dumping AFSCME, Debbaudt has proven that there is life after AFSCME, and that it's a better, more representative and more effective life than the expensive, underperforming empty-promise ridden AFSCME experience. Today, ADDA members receive a weekly bulletin of matters effecting their interests, and monthly newsletter from the ADDA directly addressing matters of concern. A professional lobbyist has been retained to assist the ADDA in the next round of negotiations with the County over pay and work conditions, and an experienced labor lawfirm has been retained to represent members with grievances.

All in all, even the naysayers have to admit that since dumping AFSCME, the ADDA has become far  more representative of its members interests and concerns. Its leadership appears to be dedicated to the interests of its members and not the interests of it leaders. The trust that was lost under the Ipsen-Seligman-AFSCME era is returning, and slowly but surely, the ADDA is becoming the organization that is was intended to be; one that has the interests of Deputy District Attorneys first and foremost.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Trutanich in Slip & Fall Nightmare - A Legacy of City Officials' Abuse of Toll Roads?

Former City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich has kept a low profile since exiting the Los Angeles political scene in 2013. He is an occasional guest on KABC 790AM's popular Peter Tilden Show where he recently declared himself to be "a better lawyer than a politician."  

On Monday, February 2, 201, the Peter Tilden Show moved up in KABC's estimation and was given the more prestigious time slot 6-10PM, and Tilden received a surprise call from Trutanich.

Although Trutanich originally called to congratulate Tilden on his promotion, the conversation quickly switched to what can only be described as a Slip and Fall Nightmare.

Trutanich related how, in November 2014, he tripped and fell on the curb at Figueroa St. and 5th in downtown Los Angeles. Trutanich said he "cracked his hip but didn't know it," X-Rays apparently did not reveal the injury. The pain must have continued because Trutanich said he underwent hip surgery on January 21, 2015, returning home two days later.

The following day, Saturday, Trutanich went for a "one hour walk," after which he showered. It was then that the nightmare began. While in the shower he said his "hip became displaced" and was just "hanging there," rendering him unable to put his foot down.

Trutanich said he went into "shock and atrial fibrillation," while paramedics rushed him to the ER. It was there that the nightmare got worse. His ambulance became bogged down in Saturday afternoon gridlocked freeway traffic; "Kings Hockey Traffic" as he described it.

The freeway toll lanes were apparently wide open, but as Trutanich lay in the ambulance watching the monitor recording his heart rate reaching 198 beats per minute, the paramedics refused to use the toll lane, saying a law prohibited them from doing so. "I'll pay for the ticket," Trutanich says he told the paramedics, but to no avail, they said they "couldn't do it" he said. Trutanich made it clear that he had no criticism of the paramedics, crediting them for "saving his life."

"Did you know," Trutanich told KABC listeners, "and I didn't know this, as a City Attorney of LA, I found this astounding, that when the Los Angeles paramedics are running the freeway, going Code 3, to a hospital, they cannot take the toll road because it is not allowed under state law." he said.

"It's the most asinine thing I've ever heard in my life," Tilden said. Trutanich said that it was "something that should be looked into by the City Council."

The rule preventing emergency service vehicles from using toll roads certainly seems illogical. Most people in Trutanich's situation would surely be horrified to find their life-saving dash to hospital delayed even for a minute by this rule. One reason for the rule could be past abuse of toll roads by elected officials.

In 2013 CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein broke the story of scandalous abuse of toll roads by city officials, including embattled City Councilmember Jose Huizar. In 2013, Huizar's taxpayer supplied hybrid SUV was photographed on three separate occasions using toll roads without paying the toll.

Goldstein showed photos of Huizar's SUV "blowing through the toll road" without a transponder, and exhibited records showing Huizar has neither paid the toll, nor the fine. Huizar claimed that his SUV is used by other members of his staff, but his office was unable to identify the drivers.

Goldstein reports that in the first 6 months that the toll roads had been in operation, as much as $50,000 in unpaid tolls and fines had been racked up by state, city and federal agencies.

So could it be that the LA Paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital had been 'warned off' using the toll roads because of abuse by city officials?

Oddly, Goldstein reports that emergency vehicles are "exempt from tolls when going to and from an actual emergency."

It's certainly a conundrum. A potentially life-threatening conundrum. If indeed emergency vehicles are exempt from tolls, then why didn't the paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital know that?

Hopefully, someone will look into this. In the meantime we wish Mr. Trutanich a speedy recovery and offer our thanks for sharing his harrowing experiences and making us aware of this problem.