Monday, March 31, 2014

Controversy continues over Felder's Bogus Ballot Title

Met News critical of Judge Lavin's Ruling; Questions Felder's use of Gay Card in Brief

Thanks to Roger M. Grace, the Editor and Co-Publisher of the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, some light has been shed on the surprising and disappointing ruling by Judge Luis Lavin allowing a former volunteer extern at the City Attorney's Office to use the blatantly bogus ballot title, 'Los Angeles Prosecutor,' in his bid to become a judge in the June 3, 2014 primary election for Office No. 61.

In his Friday, March 28, 2014 'Perspectives' column, Grace provides a detailed analysis as to why, in Grace's opinion, Judge Lavin was wrong to allow Felder to use any reference to his volunterism as a substitute for his real occupation; a maritime and admiralty lawyer. Even if Felder could refer to his externship in his ballot title, Grace argues that Lavin nonetheless allowed Felder to use a misleading ballot title; 'Los Angeles Prosecutor' suggests something rather different from a temporary volunteer extern, and surely would mislead voters as to the quality and permanence of his former occupation (Felder terminated his volunterism as soon as he filed papers to run for judge). Grace makes a compelling case that could, should Felder somehow win a place in the run off, provide his opponent with the basis of a further challenge. Hopefully no further challenge will be needed if voters learn the truth about Felder.

Did Felder play the Gay Card?

But perhaps the most controversial portion of Grace's analysis is contained at the end of his column, in a section labeled "Addendum."

"The sexual orientation of a candidate should never be a factor in gauging the person’s fitness for office—and surely is of no pertinence to the legal question of the appropriateness of a ballot designation. Yet, Felder made a point of his homosexuality in his opposition to the writ petition, giving rise to a suspicion as to his motivation. Why he would do this would seem explainable only by the fact that the case had been assigned to Lavin, and Lavin is openly gay." Grace said.

Grace argues that Felder's reference to his husband is either a deliberate attempt to signal to
a gay judge that he too is gay, or appallingly bad judgment.

Grace was referring to paragraph 5 of Felder's opposition brief, where, Felder states that "My husband, who is a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, suggested that I consider investigating other career opportunities if I wanted to pursue public service in criminal justice."

Grace argues that "Advice to Felder from his husband, Steve Johnson, which led him to join the Volunteer Attorneys Program, had no conceivable relevance to the issue of the validity of the ballot designation. Can it reasonably be supposed that Felder would have mentioned his having a husband if were not that Lavin has one also?"

Grace continues, "To attempt to win sympathy of the judge by interjecting a gratuitous reference to the party’s religion, knowing that the judge is a devout adherent to the same faith, or sneaking in any other factor that would communicate to the judge some sort of kinship, would be reprehensible." In essence, Grace is saying that Felder played the 'Gay Card' as there was no legally relevant reason for Felder to tell Judge Lavin that he gay. That Judge Lavin is openly gay is no secret; the LA Times reported that back when Lavin was appointed Judge of the Superior Court by Gov. Gray Davis in 2002. So was this a blatant attempt to curry favor with a judge?

Grace concludes by offering an alternate explanation; that Felder is a buffoon, "If Felder did not have the motivation that his conduct suggests, he still showed appallingly bad judgment in inserting an irrelevancy that would spark such a suspicion." Bad judgment could be seen by some as a gross understatement. What Felder has truly succeeded in doing is casting a dark cloud over the propriety of Judge Lavin's decision. People will forever wonder whether Judge Lavin was swayed towards ruling in Felder's favor simply because they are both gay. Whether Felder was playing the gay card or was simply a buffoon, he has established himself as unfit to be a judge. People expect fairness and impartiality from judges, and they may well wonder how a Judge Felder would rule if a party gratuitously, irrelevantly and intentionally mentions that they are gay?

In the light of Felder's faux pas, his campaign website seems particularly hypocritical proclaiming, as it does, that he believes in "equal justice for all Angelenos."

Felder also claims to have "fought for equality rights all my life." Strange then, that he did not chose to use "Civil Rights Attorney" as his ballot designation and that he makes no mention of his civil rights work on his law practice website.

If indeed, Felder succeeded in playing the gay card with Judge Lavin, it appears that he was not so successful in his effort to gain the endorsement of the Stonewall Democratic Club.

The Stonewall Democratic Club, according to their website, is "... the home for progressive Democrats in Los Angeles who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight allies of the LGBT community." They passed over Felder and instead endorsed one of his opponents, Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis. Perhaps they know how unfit Felder is to be trusted with the responsibility of ruling fairly, openly and honestly. 

The choice for who should occupy Office No. 61 as Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court should be between Gang Homicide Prosecutor Dayan Mathai and Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

B. Otis Felder allowed to use bogus ballot title in bid to become judge

In a surprising and disappointing ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin ruled Tuesday that judicial candidate B. Otis Felder can use the ballot title 'Los Angeles Prosecutor' in the race for open Office No. 61.

Felder will face Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai, running as 'Gang Homicide Prosecutor' and Commissioner Jacqueline M. Lewis, running as 'Superior Court Commissioner.' Mathai had challenged Felder's use of the title as misleading because Felder was a temporary volunteer participant in the City Attorney's Office's Reserve Deputy Program, and was not an employee. Further, Felder had an established law practice in Admiralty and Maritime law. Judge Lavin, however, in giving his ruling cited provisions in "the Elections Code and regulations [that] specifically allow candidates to designate the title of their volunteer position as the proposed ballot designation. See Elections Code section 13107.5; see also 2 CCR 20714(a)(2)."

Despite the ruling, Felder still faces an uphill battle in the June 3, 2014 primary election. Many will still regard Felder as being less than honest and perhaps manipulative in his 'volunteerism'; the City Attorney's Reserve Deputy Program was designed to give unemployed newly-qualified attorneys work experience, rather than giving an attorney with eighteen years experience and who describes himself on his website as an "Admiralty and Maritime Law Certified Specialist," the opportunity to acquire a more attractive ballot title.

Felder does not appear to have registered his campaign with the Secretary of State and thus cannot engage in fundraising. Additionally, no campaign website can currently be found for him. Felder, it seems, is relying solely on his ballot title to attract voters, and in a three way fight, his ballot title looks certain to achieve the same third place as his former boss, Carmen Trutanich who came in third with the similar ballot title 'Los Angeles City Prosecutor' in his failed bid to become District Attorney. In that race, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, running as 'Gang Homicide Prosecutor' finished second, winning a place in the runoff.

Mathai, who was one of the first to throw his hat in the ring to become a judge, has raised over $113,000 towards his campaign, and will be able to reach high propensity voters through mail. His likely rival in the runoff will be Commissioner Lewis who, unlike Felder, has registered her campaign with the Secretary of State, but thus far has not engaged in any serious fundraising, reporting just $2,500.00 in her campaign. Lewis too, could be relying to a large extent on her ballot title to carry the day for her on June 3. However, David L. Gould, who runs a political consulting company and represents several candidates for Judge of the Superior Court, recently told the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise that "commissioners, in general, do not necessarily do very well against D.A.s." 

All things considered, while Mathai no doubt would have preferred Judge Lavin to have prevented Felder from using a questionable ballot title, his campaign appears the strongest, his list of endorsements is impressive, and his established record as a prosecutor is peerless. Those are all factors that will not only connect with voters, but more importantly with editorial boards when they give their recommendations to readers.

UPDATED: We have since learned that Felder does indeed have a campaign website and has registered his campaign with the Secretary of State with the committee ID # 1364137.
Commissioner Lewis now has a campaign website:


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Courts strike down misleading ballot titles

Deputy District Attorneys Amy Carter, Alison Matsumoto Estrada and Andrew Cooper, candidates for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge in Office Nos 22, 76 and 157 respectively, all succeeded in preventing their opponents from using misleading ballot titles in the June 3, 2014 primary election.

Office No. 22
DDA Amy Carter successfully challenged opponent Pamela Matsumoto's attempt to mislead voters by using the ballot title 'Administrative Law Judge.' It is understood that Matsumoto will now appear on the ballot as 'Litigation Attorney.'

The ruling was handed down by retired Judge Robert O’Brien, sitting on assignment in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Carter was represented by Bradley W. Hertz, Esq., of The Sutton Law Firm.

Office No. 76
DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada successfully challenged opponent DDA Helen Kim's attempt to mislead voters by using the ballot title 'Violent Crimes Prosecutor.' It is understood that Kim will now appear on the ballot as 'Criminal Prosecutor' to more accurately reflect her part-time filing deputy assignment.

The ruling, handed down by Judge James Chalfant in Department 85 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, must come as a bitter blow to Kim and her campaign consultant, Fred Huebscher.  It will also likely give editorial boards pause for concern regarding Kim's candidacy, the taint of a failed attempt to mislead is hard to extinguish.

Notwithstanding today's ruling, a check on Kim's campaign website this evening shows that she nevertheless continues to maintain that "In my current position as a violent crimes prosecutor, the substantial majority of the cases I prosecute are violent and serious felonies such as murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, kidnapping, carjacking robbery, burglary, criminal threats and felonies with great bodily injuries." Evidence presented at today's hearing included a declaration from DDA Rob Dver, a full-time filing deputy, who maintained that less than 5% of the cases he files are violent felonies as defined by Penal Code Section 667.5(c).

Kim has reported $554,500.00 in campaign contributions from a handful of donors; something else that might give pause for concern, and likely to be viewed as an attempt to purchase a Judgeship. Kim's contributions can be examined on the Secretary of State's website using this link. For some unknown reason, Kim's contributions appear under the category "Late and $5000+ Contributions Received."

Matsumoto Estrada was represented by Stuart L. Leviton of Reed & Davidson, LLP.

Office No. 157
DDA Andrew Cooper successfully challenged opponent Arnold Mednick's attempt to mislead voters by using the ballot title 'Administrative Law Judge.' It is understood that Mednick will now appear on the ballot as 'Retired Court Referee.'

Although there is little legal justification for the use of the work 'retired' where, as here, Mednick was briefly employed by the Dept. of Social Security following his retirement as a Superior Court Referee. It is understood that Cooper will not issue any further challenge to this ballot title. It is also understood that Mednick was less than pleased with this ballot title, fearing that 'retired' conveyed the suggestion that he was old.

In his excellent Wednesday, March 19, 2014 'Perspectives' Column, Roger M. Grace, Editor and Co-Publisher of the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, had opined that the appropriate ballot title for Mednick would be a blank line under his name.

The ruling was handed down by retired Judge Robert O’Brien, sitting on assignment in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Cooper's campaign continues to gain strength, he recently gained the endorsement of State Bar President Luis Rodriguez and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

Cooper was represented by Bradley W. Hertz, Esq., of The Sutton Law Firm.

Office No. 61
A forth challenge to a bogus ballot title remains to be decided; that of DDA Dayan Mathai's challenge to opponent B. Otis Felder's use of 'Los Angeles Prosecutor,' to describe his volunteer externship at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. That will be decided Tuesday March 25, 2014 by Judge Luis Lavin in Department 82 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Battle of Bogus Ballot Designations Set for Courtroom Showdowns

With the LA County Registrar-Recorder stating that the wording of all disputed ballot designations must be settled by close of business Monday, March 24  to meet the printing deadline, the fate of four bogus ballot designations in the races for Offices 22, 61, 76 and 157 should be decided by Superior Court judges today.

Office 22
DDA Amy Carter, running as 'Sex Crimes Prosecutor,' has challenged her opponent, insurance defense attorney Pamela Matsumoto's use of 'Administrative Law Judge' as her ballot title. According to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Matsumoto's claim to the ballot title derives from her temporary job as a social security benefits hearing officer. That job ended in July 2013, and Matsumoto recently started working as an attorney in the Glendale law office of Gregory Lucett, representing Allstate Insurance Company.

The issue centers on the "reach back" provisions of Elections Code §13107(a)(3) which permits a ballot designation of "[n]o more than three words designating ... the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents."[Emphasis added]. Matsumoto appears justify her ballot title based on her work for the Department of Social Security through July 2013,  rather than her current employment in insurance defense.

Carter is represented by Bradley W. Hertz, Esq., of The Sutton Law Firm. In the writ petition filed on Carter's behalf, Hertz asserts that Matsumoto's use of the reach back provision does not apply where a candidate such as Matsumoto is currently employed. Rather, he contends, the reach back provision was included in the Elections Code in 1992 when unemployment was at an all time high to allow those who were either retired or unemployed to "reach back" to their principal occupation. Hertz asserts that a candidate cannot use the reach back provision to "... ignore and hide from the voters her current principal professions, vocations, or occupations (i.e., insurance defense counsel) and instead use a more politically popular 'former' job description (i.e., ALJ) from the candidate’s past." To allow that, he argued, would contravene the requirement of §13107 that a designation be rejected if it "would mislead the voter."

Office 61
DDA Dayan Mathai, running as 'Gang Homicide Prosecutor' has challenged one of his opponents, maritime and admiralty attorney B. Otis Felder, who initially tried to run as 'Deputy City Attorney' based on his temporary volunteer externship at the City Attorney's Office. However, following Mathai's initial challenge to the Registrar-Recorder, Felder was bizarrely awarded the title 'Los Angeles Prosecutor' by the Registrar-Recorder.

Mathai has challenged the Registrar-Recorder's decision, telling the Met News that "... I was informed that they were going to change the designation again. Felder’s designation is now 'Los Angeles Prosecutor,' and that is their final decision. This is obviously equally false and misleading because he could be perceived by the public as either the District Attorney, the City Attorney, or a Deputy of either of those elected officials, which he is not and has never been. This is a designation that does not even appear on Mr. Felder’s Ballot Designation worksheet, so I’m unsure why they created it instead of his own stated 2nd Alternative request of 'Los Angeles Attorney.'"

Mathai, who will represent himself in the hearing, will likely assert that the title chosen by the Registrar-Recorder is all too similar to that ultimately awarded to Carmen Trutanich after he was stripped of his misleading ballot title 'Chief Criminal Prosecutor' during his ill-fated campaign to become District Attorney.

Just as in the dispute over Office 22, it is the reach back provision of the Election Code that is at issue. Felder's externship at the City Attorney's Office is understood to have terminated prior to his filing papers for Office 61. In order to prove that his externship was his "principal vocation" (the externship is unpaid) Felder may be required to produce records showing his admiralty and maritime law practice was dormant during that time.

Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis, also running for the seat, declined to join in Mathai's challenge.

If 'Los Angeles Prosecutor' were allowed to stand, it could mislead voters into believing Felder is the City Attorney or District Attorney, Mathai will likely argue. The more accurate ballot title is, perhaps, Felder's second choice 'Los Angeles Attorney.'

Office 76
In a race that sadly pitches one DDA against another, DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada, running as 'Government Corruption Prosecutor' has challenged DDA Helen Kim's ballot title 'Violent Crimes Prosecutor.'

Unlike the other challenges before the courts on Monday, it is not the reach back provisions of the Election Code at issue here. Rather it is the inherently misleading nature of the ballot title itself; Kim is a part-time filing deputy in Central Complaints.

A declaration filed by DDA Rob Dver on behalf of Matsumoto Estrada, asserts that violent felonies (as defined in Penal Code §667.5(c)) are typically handled by special units, not Central Complaints. Dver, who is a filing deputy, also asserts that no more than 5% of the cases he handles fall within Penal Code §667.5(c).

Matsumoto Estrada is represented by Stuart L. Leviton of Reed & Davidson, LLP. 

Office 157
DDA Andrew Cooper, running as 'Gang Homicide Prosecutor,' has challenged attorney Arnold W. Mednick's use of 'Administrative Law Judge' as his ballot title. The issue is not too dissimilar to that in Office 22. According to the Met News, Mednick last worked as a hearing officer for the Department of Social Services on January 16, 2013.

Mednick is apparently asserting that he has held no other employment since January 16, 2013, and that his listing on the State Bar website which uses the address of a bankruptcy attorney, is simply a mailing address. In his writ petition, Cooper asserts that Mednick changed his listing on the State Bar website. As of February 11, 2014, Mednick was affiliated with the Offices of Steven Bryson. On February 12, 2014, Mednick changed the listing to show only a personal mail box without affiliation to Bryson. According to Cooper, Mednick filed his nominating papers on February 10, 2014, and that the change of detail (i.e. the lack of association with Bryson) "...was an attempt to hide the fact that he is a practicing attorney so he could attempt to make use of the 'look back'  provision found in Elections Code section 13107(a)(3)." the Met News reported.

Cooper, like Carter in Office 22, is represented by Bradley W. Hertz, Esq., of The Sutton Law Firm.

Bogus Ballot Designation Challenged in Race of County Assessor

The Los Cerritos Newspaper Group/Hews Media Group reports that a legal challenge has been filed against Jeffrey Prang, one of twelve candidates for Los Angeles County Assessor. Prang, is trying to use 'Los Angeles County Deputy Assessor' as his ballot title, based on Prang being an at-will appointee of disgraced outgoing Assessor John Noguez. Noguez currently faces fraud and corruption charges arising out of alleged acceptance of bribes in return for property tax reductions.

"Prang serves as a Special Assistant to the Assessor. His job title requires him to conduct investigations and perform staff or public relations assignments for the Executive Office of the Assessor.  He is misleading voters intentionally," said Omar Haroon who is also running for the office.

The HMG-CN reported that the legal challenge to Prang caught his campaign consultant off guard on Friday afternoon.  "We are not aware of this legal challenge, so it is hard for me to have an immediate reaction," Ross Bates told HMG-CN in a phone conversation on Friday afternoon from an airport in Northern California.

"These type of things happen in campaigns.  This isn’t surprising.  Jeff has worked under two past Assessors, but if we have to change his ballot title to Special Assistant, I am okay with that," said Bates.

Haroon called Prang a "career politician."  He also took a swipe at John Morris, who is running for Assessor, and who is a Deputy District Attorney for LA County DA Jackie Lacey. "A deputy district attorney has no qualifications or understanding of the office," Haroon told the HMG-CN. In his statement, Haroon perhaps belies his ignorance (or fear) of Morris who, having successfully headed the DA's Office Bureau of Fraud and Corruption's Healcare Fraud Division, knows precisely how to root out and prevent the rampant corruption that allegedly occurred under Haroon and Prang's noses while they served in the Noguez administration. 

Haroon will be represented by Benjamin Davidson of the Law Offices of Benjamin Davidson, P.C. at a press conference scheduled to take place Monday morning on the steps of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Battle of Bogus Ballot Designations goes to Court; ADDA to Co-Host Sheriff's Debate

DDAs Alison Matsumoto Estrada and Amy Carter Challenge Rivals' Bogus Ballot Designations

Our coverage, yesterday, of DDA Helen Kim's bogus ballot designation as a 'Violent Crimes Prosecutor' prompted a rash of comments condemning the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise and the Dragnet for covering the dispute. However, some comments acknowledged that Kim had gone too far and was attempting to mislead voters given that her occupation, a part-time filing deputy in Central Complaints, bears no relation to what one would expect to be the role of a violent crimes prosecutor. One comment analogized Kim's claim to that of a 911 operator claiming to be a "crime fighter."

Kim made a last minute decision to challenge DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada's candidacy Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 76. We speculated that Matsumoto would likely challenge Kim's bogus ballot designation, and it appears that she has.

According to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the dispute over Kim's ballot designation was before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin even while comments on the Dragnet were being posted. In response to a petition filed by DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada challenging Kim's ballot designation, Judge Lavin issued writ ordering the LA County Registrar-Recorder to strike Kim's misleading ballot designation, or show cause why the ballot designation should stand.

Matsumoto's petition was supported by a declaration from DDA Rob Dver, who describes himself as a "general filing deputy," for reasons that soon become clear. Dver describes the duties of a filing deputy and, significantly, makes the point that, of the cases he reviews, "approximately 40% ... involve alleged thefts of some form, approximately 40% ... involve drugs of some form, and the remaining 20% ... involve other circumstances."

Moreover, Dver points out that "A 'violent' felony has a specific meaning under ... Penal Code Section 667.5(c). I estimate that at most 5% of the cases I evaluate as a general filing deputy involve 'violent' felonies, as that term is defined in the Penal Code."

Finally, Dver asserts that, for the most part, violent felonies "are reviewed for filing by special units or the Victim Impact Program (VIP)," adding that "As a general filing deputy I am not usually involved with these cases."

Kim, being neither assigned to a special unit nor VIP, likely has a similar caseload as Dver (albeit a lighter one, given her part-time status), would appear to have little justification for her 'violent crimes prosecutor' ballot designation.

Some may point out that Dver's assertion is without merit as Kim does not claim to be a 'violent felonies prosecutor' only a 'violent crimes prosecutor.' However, as she is assigned to Central Complaints, it is unlikely that she encounters any 'violent' misdemeanors. If they do exist, they would be within the jurisdiction of the City Attorney's Office.

Kim had until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday to file an opposition and a hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Monday in Department 85, where Judge James Chalfant sits, the Met News reported.

We also mentioned that Judicial candidate DDA Amy Carter has challenged the ballot designation chosen by her rival for Office No. 22, Pamela Matsumoto, who claimed to be an "Administrative Law Judge."

Carter's petition asserts that Matsumoto's ballot designation is false because her current occupation is that of insurance defense attorney, and her temporary assignment as a hearing officer does not comport with the requirements of applicable law.

That challenge will also be heard on Monday, in Department 86 before retired Judge Robert O'Brien, sitting on assignment. O'Brien gave Matsumoto until noon Thursday to file a written opposition.

In other news

The Dragnet has learned that Judicial candidates DDAs Andrew Cooper (Office No. 157) and Dayan Mathai (Office No. 61) have filed challenges to their opponents.

Cooper has challenged attorney Arnold Mednick's use of "Administrative Law Judge," for reasons similar to those raised by Amy Carter.

Mathai has challenged attorney B. Otis Felder's use of "Deputy City Prosecutor" or various permutations thereof, on the basis that Felder was not employed by the City Attorney's Office, but was, rather, a volunteer extern while maintaining his law practice.

ADDA to Co-Host Sheriff's Debate

Mark your calendars. April 17, 2014, the ADDA will co-host the "Battle for Los Angeles County Sheriff" along with several other bar associations at the Hollenbeck Youth Center. This likely signals an intention by the ADDA to endorse one of the seven candidates in the June 3, 2014 primary election.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

McDonnell's endorsements grow, Ballot Designation Battle heats up

LA County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell endorsed by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky

Jim McDonnell's campaign to become the first "outsider" to be elected at LA County Sheriff gained the endorsement of LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky on Monday. Yaroslavsky hailed McDonnell as being the only candidate with the "clean slate" necessary to lead reforms at the agency.

McDonnell already has the endorsement of Supervisor Don Knabe, who stood with McDonnell and Yaroslavsky at the Monday press call, and McDonnell will likely gain the endorsements of the other Supervisors in the near future. KPCC's Frank Stoltze covered the event, but questioned whether the endorsement matters. Stoltze quoted Ralph Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, who said "Zev's endorsement is always extremely valuable, and could help mightily in the San Fernando Valley and on the Westside," Sonenshein said.

At the same time, endorsements "may get washed out a bit" in countywide races, he said. Backing that comes with money is more important, including organizational endorsements. Sonenshein told KPCC.

However, important endorsements are often the key to backing that comes with money. One such form of backing could come from ALADS, the union representing rank and file deputy sheriffs. As we reported on Friday, ALADS recently fired their president Armando Macias. Although the stated reason was "problems of attendance" at meetings, sources speculated that the turmoil at ALADS has more to do with attempts to hijack the endorsement decision making process to favor ousted former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. The Dragnet's sources appear to be correct, as Witness LA reported Monday that ALADS will defer endorsing any candidate for Sheriff until after the June 3 primary election.

Witness LA reported that ALADS had held a vote on the endorsement issue on March 10, but because no single candidate garnered more than 50% of votes cast, the endorsement decision was deferred until after the primary.

Of the 890 votes cast, the breakdown is interesting:

203 - Jim McDonnell
184 - Paul Tanaka
168 - Bob Olmsted
163 - Todd Rogers
144 - Jim Hellmond
26 - Pat Gomez
2 - Lou Vince

That McDonnell, an outsider, polled more votes than his principal rivals who are all "insiders," likely puts McDonnell in prime position to pick up the ALADS endorsement after the primary. It is also bad news for Tanaka. Given the campaign warchests available to the candidates, only McDonnell and Tanaka are likely to connect with enough voters to the extent necessary to make the runoff. In a straight choice between McDonnell and Tanaka, McDonnell is likely the choice of ALADS as the vast majority of ALADS members voted for anyone but Tanaka.

Met News Blasts DDA Helen Kim for "Bogus" Ballot Designation

The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise pulled no punches in Tuesday's 'Perspectives' column, describing DDA Helen Kim's chosen ballot designation for her bid to become Judge as "bogus," and stating she is "not fit to serve as a jurist."

The Met News called Kim's ballot designation, "Violent Crimes Prosecutor," deceptive because it makes her seem to be something more than she is. According the the Met News, Kim is "a part-time deputy district attorney who works in the intake section." (Kim is understood to be a part-time filing deputy in the Complaints Division). "Basically, she has a three-day-a-week desk job." the Met News said, adding that "Making a determination as to whether charges should be filed against a particular individual is, of course, a function of a prosecutorial office, and some of those whom Kim determines should be charged are perpetrators of violent crimes. Yet, to say that she is a 'prosecutor' of violent criminals strikes me as so much of a stretch as to amount to a lie."

Strong words indeed and perhaps explained by more insight from the Met News "Kim is a client of political consultant Fred Huebscher, a master of campaign deception." the Met New said.

In her campaign website, Kim does not indicate that she is a part-time employee. She glosses over her filing deputy position, instead stating that "I function in a quasi-judicial role by reviewing the evidence independently and applying the laws of our State and Constitution and determine whether a criminal proceeding should be filed against an individual."

Kim spent almost $16,000.00 in filing fees to keep her options open as to which of eight open seats she would actually contest. In the end she decided to run against fellow DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada for Office No. 76. It is not know why Kim decided on running against Matsumoto, but it could be a decision she now regrets given the negative publicity over her ballot designation, and even more so, should Matsumoto challenge the designation.

Either way, Kim's campaign strategy is unlikely garner her any newspaper endorsements, and in a low turnout countywide election cycle, voters typically rely on print media for their choices. Whether the LA Times or the Daily News will go so far as the Met News has done in labeling Kim "deceptive," a "liar" and "not fit to serve as a jurist" remains to be seen, however her hopes of endorsement appear unlikely.

All of which leaves Alison Matsumoto Estrada, by contrast, well positioned to receive voter and media approval. Her ballot designation, "Government Corruption Prosecutor" accurately describes her full time assignment as a trial deputy in the Public Integrity Division.

Matsumoto's campaign website is

"Like" her on Facebook at

In other news:

The Met News also reports that DDA Amy Carter, candidate for Superior Court Judge Office No. 22, has filed a petition challenging rival Pamela Matsumoto's use of a misleading ballot designation "Administrative Law Judge." Our full report is to follow, in the meantime, the Met News report is excellent reading, as usual.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Endorsements boost Deputy District Attorney candidates in June Primary Election

County Assessor candidate John Morris endorsed by retired DA Steve Cooley

Hot on the heels of last week's announcement that he had secured the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris' campaign to become County Assessor received a boost from his former boss; retired District Attorney Steve Cooley.

This from the Morris campaign:

John Morris for Assessor Campaign Gains Backing of Retired Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley

Los Angeles, CA  Citing the need to restore taxpayer protections against fraud in the assessment process as a key reason for taking action, retired Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley today backed Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris for Los Angeles County Assessor.

"John Morris is the right leader for the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office, a critical county agency that has been racked with fraud," said Steve Cooley.  "His experience leading county teams in eliminating fraud has saved insurance rate payers millions and he will have the same positive impact as our next County Assessor."

A 23 year veteran of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, John Morris currently serves as Head Deputy District Attorney.  He has served the county as a hard core gang prosecutor and later headed the countywide effort to eliminate fraud in the workers compensation and health care system.

"I am honored to have DA Cooley's endorsement.  He headed the effort to stop the fraud in the Assessor's office and once in office I will complete the investigation, refer all wrongdoing to the DA's office for prosecution and put reforms in place that safeguard against this ever happening again," said John Morris.

In October 2012, then-DA Steve Cooley filed multiple felon counts against current Assessor John Noguez, for illegally cutting the assessments on over $100 million in real estate in Los Angeles County.  At the time, District Attorney Cooley termed it the most significant level of fraud he had ever seen at the county level.

On paid leave since allegations of wrongdoing surfaced against him in 2012, Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez still collects his full salary and benefits package.

"John Noguez spent a little over eighteen months defrauding taxpayers as Assessor and  will spend almost twice that much time receiving full pay on leave," explained Morris.  "This is a travesty.  Once elected I will complete an Assessor's office policy that if charged in court with misuse of office, Assessor's must resign and then I will work to make sure the law is changed to require resignation for those who misuse their office."

# - # - #

Morris would likely also have secured the endorsement of current District Attorney Jackie Lacey, however, with the DA's Office currently prosecuting Noguez, such an endorsement would be untimely. Morris is the only candidate with substantial experience in leadership and rooting out fraud and corruption. Two attributes badly needed at the County Assessors Office in the wake of the Noguez scandals.

Few doubt that Morris has the credentials and qualifications to clean house at the Assessors Office. As Head Deputy District Attorney of the Healthcare Fraud Division, Morris successfully lobbied for and received increased funding for fraud investigations and prosecutions.

October 2011, John Morris (top right) Head Deputy District Attorney of the Healthcare Fraud Division
received the LA County STARS! Award, together with his team of prosecutors and investigators.
His leadership style inspired prosecutors and investigators in his division to excel in their work, increasing the numbers of cases investigated and prosecuted to such a remarkable extent that he and all 35 members of the Healthcare Fraud Division received the prestigious LA County STARS! Award recognizing "exceptional performance by individual employees and teams of employees." Under Morris' leadership, criminal filings increased by 76% and training and outreach increased by 219%.

Morris faces eleven challengers for the Office of County Assessor. Nearly all of those challengers are people who worked for Noguez. None have the qualifications and leadership experience necessary to ensure the County Assessor's Office is run fairly, effectively and efficiently.

Morris' campaign website is:

'Like' him on FaceBook at

Superior Court Judge candidate Andrew Cooper picks up key endorsements

Adding to an already impressive list of endorsements, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Cooper's campaign for Judge of the Superior Court, Office No 157, announced three key endorsements in the past week. Cooper received endorsements from Senator Ted Lieu, the Mexican American Bar Association (MABA), and one of LA's largest organized labor groups, SEIU Local 721

Cooper, who was the earliest of sixteen Deputy District Attorneys running for election in the June 3, primary election, faces a challenge from Arnold W. Mednick, a former Superior Court Referee. Mednick filed papers to run with the ballot designation "Administrative Law Judge," which is believed to be based on his temporary assignment hearing social security benefits cases.

Many believe Mednick's choice of ballot designation to be misleading. Elections Code §13107, which allows the use as a ballot title of "[n]o more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents."

According to the State Bar website, Mednick's current status appears to be a Beverly Hills Attorney. His prior temporary status as a hearing officer probably does not meet the  "the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents" requirement of the code, and it is understood that Cooper will challenge the designation. 

Regardless of the outcome of the challenge, Cooper appears to be well prepared to mount an effective countywide campaign. His fundraising activities will allow him to use all important print media to reach voters, and he will likely furth benefit from voter guides published by the many organizations who have endorsed him, to strengthen his chances.

Cooper's campaign website is

'Like' him on Facebook at

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday's Free For All: McDonnell for Sheriff Gains Support, Leader Emerges in Race for Assessor

Candidate filing closed Wednesday for two important races in the June 3, 2014 primary; LA County Sheriff and County Assessor. Both races share significant similarities; both have scandal ridden pasts, both have large fields of candidates many of whom worked in the those troubled administrations, and both feature highly qualified 'outsiders' as candidates to clean house; Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell for the Sheriff's Dept., and Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris for the County Assessor's Office.

McDonnell for Sheriff Campaign Gains Support of Attorney General

In the Sheriff's race McDonnell leads the field of seven challengers as the sole high ranking peace officer never to have worn a sheriff's badge. He is the consummate outsider that the Dept needs and, since announcing his candidacy, has attracted a slew of endorsements from high ranking law enforcement and civic leaders. Last week we reported on McDonnell's kickoff fundraiser, and that same day California Attorney General Kamla Harris announced her endorsement of his candidacy. It's an important endorsement for McDonnell, underlying the widespread bi-partisan support McDonnell enjoys; he is already endorsed by District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and retired District Attorneys Steve Cooley, Robert Philibosian and John Van de Kamp.

Next month Harris will co-host a fundraiser for McDonnell, adding to the momentum that has propelled his campaign to frontrunner status.

McDonnell clearly has his opponents worried. At a recent candidates' forum hosted by the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, the Daily News reported that his rivals focused their presentations on attacking McDonnell, while McDonnell took the high road and fended off the attacks without returning blasts of his own. A wise move not wasted on the audience who clearly recognized the obvious; everyone else at the candidates' table had been part of the problem at the Sheriff's Dept. and their claim to now be part of the solution seems lacking in credibility.

"My style is to try not to attack someone else, but rather try to showcase what I bring to the table and how that fits with the needs of the Sheriff’s Department in today's environment," McDonnell told the Daily News. Former Van Nuys Neighborhood Council President Don Schultz said he thought McDonnell’s strategy at Wednesday debate in Van Nuys will pay off. "I think by laying back (McDonnell) is probably playing it smart," Schultz said.

Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka probably has the most to fear from McDonnell. With rumors growing that he was more closely involved in the decision making process that led to a keystone cops style attempt to hide an informant from the FBI, his credentials grow more tarnished on a daily basis. Tanaka's recently announced plan to "restore trust" in the Sheriff's Dept. received more wry smiles than it did attention from the mainstream media.

Tellingly, the only news outlet to cover the plan, the Los Cerritos Newspaper Group, belied their support for Tanaka by misleading readers with the statement "Tanaka is facing five challengers in the June 3rd California Primary election."  The LCNG named those five challengers as Patrick L. Gomez, James Hellmold, Bob Olmsted, Todd Rogers, and Lou Vince. But Tanaka faces six challengers, and the one challenger the LCNG failed to mention is the one who will likely beat Tanaka and become LA's next Sheriff; Jim McDonnell.

Tanaka is understood to be desperately courting the endorsement of ALADS, the union representing  rank and file department deputies. But that endorsement is proving to be elusive. The LA Times reported that Armando Macias, the President of  ALADS was recently "removed" by the board of directors, who cited "problems of attendance" as the reason for his removal. Rumors suggest the removal had more to do with pressure on ALADS to make an endorsement for Sheriff...

McDonnell's campaign website is

John Morris for County Assessor Campaign Gains Key Endorsement

Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris has been quietly gaining support for his campaign to clean up the scandal ridden County Assessors Office. Incumbent, John Noguez, is not seeking a reelection he would certainly lose in the face of multiple fraud and corruption charges arising from allegations that he accepted bribes to cheat Los Angeles County out of property tax revenue by improperly lowering property tax assessments for favored individuals.

As Morris ramps up his campaign ahead of the June 3, 2014 primary, he today announced that he has secured the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This from the Morris for County Assessor campaign:

Los Angeles, CA  John Morris campaign to defend Proposition 13 as Los Angeles County Assessor gained major backing today with the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

"We believe you will be an excellent representative for taxpayers and look forward to working with you in the years ahead," said Kris Vosburgh, Executive Director for the Association said.

Since the passage of Prop 13 in 1978, property tax collection in California has grown faster than any other major source of state tax revenue.  The key mechanism in the law is setting property assessments at 1% of the purchase value of the home and allowing up to a 2% annual increase in value.

"Californians put great faith in Prop 13 because it took politics and personal decisions out of the assessment process," said John Morris.  "When I am Assessor, I will introduce reforms that safeguard against internal fraud, speed up appeals, and protect both taxpayers and the hard working professionals within the agency that have been harmed by the fraud of the current Assessor.  It is a great honor to have the support of HJTA in this campaign."

John Morris is a veteran 23-year prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. He is the only candidate for Assessor that is a prosecutor, holds a real estate license, has years of real estate law experience, and is a published author.  He and his wife, Mary, are raising their children in the San Fernando Valley where they are active locally and in their church. 

John Morris is Endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, and taxpayers from throughout Los Angeles County.

- # - # - # -

Morris is one of twelve candidates seeking to replace Noguez. Most of the other candidates in the race have close ties to Noguez, having worked in the Assessors Office under Noguez while those alleged bribes were made. Morris' chief rival, Jeffrey Prang, who is widely seen as a career politician and is currently a Councilmember for the City of West Hollywood, was Noguez's Special Assistant and also served as a Field Deputy for Sheriff Baca in the controversial Civilian Field Deputy Program recently shut down by interim Sheriff John Scott.

Despite Prang's two ties to scandal ridden administrations, he has amassed a laundry list of political endorsements. However, with the race for Assessor likely to attract more attention from the mainstream media, Morris looks favorite to secure all important media endorsements.

In a race with twelve candidates, a runoff is a certainty, and with Morris running with the ballot designation "Head Deputy D.A.," Morris has a good chance of placing in the runoff.

Morris' campaign website is:
'Like' him on FaceBook at

Monday, March 10, 2014

Frisco, Park & Murillo early winners in race for Judge of Superior Court

Friday's deadline for candidates for Judge of the Superior Court resulted in three of the sixteen Deputy District Attorney candidates being unopposed. DDA Chris Frisco is unopposed in Office No. 72, DDA Ann Park is unopposed in Office No. 82, and DDA Serena Murillo is unopposed in Office No. 90. All three therefore will be Judge Elect on June 3, 2014, become Judges on or before January 2015.

DDAs Chris Frisco (Office No. 72), Ann Park (Office No. 82), and Serena Murillo (Office No. 90)
are all unopposed in the June 3, 2014 primary election and will become Judges of the Superior Court

For Murillo, who narrowly lost her previous bid to join the judiciary, Friday's surprise result must be a huge relief as well as a vindication of her hard efforts and resilience in her current campaign. Murillo attended Sunday's scheduled fundraiser at the home mansion of former DDA Michael Kraut which was re-named a celebration, and was elated, saying that the news had not yet sunk in. Doubtless, Murillo's sentiments are shared by Frisco and Park. The Dragnet offer all three hearty congratulations.

For the 12 remaining contested seats, the candidates finally learned who their opponents will be, and perhaps, more importantly, what ballot designations will be used or abused. In a county-wide race where budgets for judicial seats typically preclude a battle of mailers, most voters will have little to go on other than a name that looks agreeable and a ballot designation that resonates with voters'  expectations of a judge. The breakdown is somewhat as predicted in our Friday morning review.

Office No 22
DDA Amy Carter, running with the ballot designation "Sex Crimes Prosecutor," will face former Superior Court Referee Pamela Matsumoto who has chosen "Administrative Law Judge" as her ballot designation. Carter may challenge that designation based on Matsumoto's assignment as ALJ being a temporary one which ended in August 2013. Matsumoto is currently working in insurance defense.

Office No 48
DDA Carol Rose, running with the ballot designation "Child Molestation Prosecutor," will face career politician Charles Calerdon who will appear on the ballot as "Retired Lawmaker Assemblymember," a ballot designation that will likely serve to remind voters that his principal claim to fame is that he is the brother of federally indicted Roland and Tom Calderon. His choice of ballot designation was made the same day that the latest scandal to tarnish the Calderon political family was reported in the Pasadena News-Star. Calderon apparently paid his son Ian $40k for 'consulting' in his uncontested reelection campaign in 2010. Calderon, like Tom Griego (see Office 87), is likely counting on partisan support from the Democrat Latino community to carry the day for him in a race where, like Griego, he is utterly unqualified to sit as a judge. 

Office No 54
DDA Shannon Knight, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Prosecutor," will face Commissioner Debra Losnick  running with the ballot designation "Superior Court Commissioner." This is the second judicial campaign for Knight who, in 2012, lost to fellow DDA and now Hon. Judge Andrea C. Thompson. Observers believe that Knight's ballot designation, "Gang Homicide Prosecutor,"was trumped by Thompson's - "Child Molestation Prosecutor," which should provide DDA Carol Rose some comfort in her battle with Calderon.

Office No 61
DDA Dayan Mathai, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Prosecutor," will face   Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis, running with the ballot designation "Superior Court Commissioner," and attorney B. Otis Felder, who has chosen to use the ballot designation "Deputy City Prosecutor." It remains to be seen whether either Mathai or Lewis will challenge Felder's ballot designation, he is no longer employed by the City Attorney's Office.

Office No 76
DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada, running with the ballot designation "Government Corruption Prosecutor" finds herself in the awkward position of facing fellow DDA Helen Kim, who will appear on the ballot as "Violent Crime Prosecutor." it appears as to be a straight choice for voters; which to they dislike more; corrupt politicians or violent criminals? Given the on-going hype surrounding the recently indicted Calderons, Matsumoto Estrada may have the edge here. Kim may, however, be banking on partisanship to carry the day for her; she is understood to have recently switched her party allegiance from Republican to Democrat. 

Office No 87
DDA Steven Schreiner, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Prosecutor," will face attorney Andrew Stein, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Attorney," and Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego, running with the ballot designation "Criminal Gang Prosecutor."
Office No 87 is all about gangs apparently, and unless either Stein and Schreiner challenge Griego for using a misleading ballot designation, uninformed voters will likely have a hard time distinguishing the candidates. Stein, who is understood to be "all in" for his election bid, will likely bring that challenge.

Office No 97
DDA Teresa Pineda-Magno, running with the ballot designation "Gang Murder Prosecutor," will face Deputy City Attorney Songhai Miguda-Armsted, running with the ballot designation "Supervising Criminal Prosecutor." Magno may have the ballot designation edge here, voters seem to favor Gang Homicide/Murder Prosecutors over prosecutors who use their supervisory position; just ask Miguda-Armsted's former boss Carmen Trutanich who not only lost his bid to use "Los Angeles Chief  Prosecutor" in his spectacularly unsuccessful bid to become District Attorney, but also lost the election using "Los Angeles City Prosecutor."

Office No 107
DDA Joan Chrostek, running with the ballot designation "Major Narcotics Prosecutor," will face Commissioner Emma Castro, running with the ballot designation "Superior Court Commissioner." Chrostek has retained famed judge-maker David Gould as her consultant, and commenting on the race for Office No 107, Gould told the Metropolitan News-Enterprise that "commissioners, in general, do not necessarily do very well against D.A.s."

Office No 113
DDA Stacy Okun-Weise, running with the ballot designation "Criminal Homicide Prosecutor," will  face attorney Steven Klaif, running as "Superior Court Referee." Klaif's ballot designation could draw a challenge, apparently he is not a full-time Referee. His principal occupation appears to be that of "Mediator." Okun-Weise certainly appears to have the edge in terms of ballot designation, even without a challenge, the public have little idea what a 'Referee' is and may see it as somewhat inferior to either "Judge" or "Commissioner." (no offense intended to the fine work conducted by many Superior Court Referees).

Office No 117
DDA Carol Najera, running with the ballot designation "Violent Crimes Prosecutor," is the only candidate challenging a sitting Judge; the Hon. James B. Price, who will appear on the ballot as "Judge of the Superior Court." Incumbent judges are hard to unseat, and when asked what had persuaded her to challenge Pierce, Najera stated that both prosecutors and defense attorneys are often treated discourteously and demeaningly by Pierce. The final straw, she related, was a conversation she had with a friend who had been on a jury panel during voir dire conducted by Pierce. "My friend was disgusted with the way Judge Pierce treated a potential juror who could did not understand English." Najera did say that Pierce is often "good for the prosecution," indeed he has handed down some significant sentences in serious cases, but her concern was his demeanor. "Judges do not have the right to be reelected," she said, perhaps a indicative of a hope she holds that her challenge might bring some change to the way Judge Piece conducts himself.

Office No 138
DDA Donna Hollingsworth-Armstrong, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Prosecutor," will face attorney Marc Gibbons who will appear on the ballot as "Trial Lawyer," rather than "Criminal Defense Attorney" for which he is known. Hollingsworth-Armstrong's ballot designation will likely win the day for her.

Office 157
DDA Andrew Cooper, running with the ballot designation "Gang Homicide Prosecutor," will face former Referee Arnold W. Mednick who has chosen to use"Administrative Law Judge" as his ballot designation. It is unclear what justification exists for Mednick's ballot designation, an internet search revealed Arnold Mednick working as an Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Social Services in 2013, earning $39,292, "which was 39% lower that the average" suggesting that Mednick's employment was not of a permanent nature. Mednick's current State Bar records suggest he is a sole practitioner, while his listing on suggests he is still a Referee at the Torrance Courthouse. Cooper, who was the first to launch his campaign, has indicated that he will likely challenge a misleading ballot designation, and had already conducted the necessary legal research.

The June 3, 2014 primary features an unprecedented number open seats and an equally unprecedented DDAs running for those seats. That so many judges chose the timing of the announcement of their retirements in such a way so as to preclude Governor Brown from making appointments, is seen by some, as disapproving of many (but not all) of the Governer's recent judicial appointments.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday's Free For All: McDonnell Kickoff Fundraiser; Murillo for Judge Fundraiser; D-Day for Judge Candidates


LA County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell Kickoff Fundraiser

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell's campaign to replace retired Sheriff Lee Baca got off to an impressive start last night at a private event in downtown Los Angeles. Guests invited by campaign supporters including DA Jackie Lacey, retired DAs Steve Cooley, Robert Philibosian and John Van de Kamp, and former State Assembly Speaker Robert 'Huggy' Hertzberg, crammed the downtown eatery to show their support for McDonnell.

LAPD Chief Beck (right) was amongst the crowded audience to support Jim McDonnell for Sheriff

It was, perhaps, no surprise to see LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in attendance. Beck has endorsed McDonnell to head the troubled Sheriff's Dept., doubtless based on his experience working with McDonnell when they worked together under former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton - who has also endorsed McDonnell.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey introduced LA County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey gave an introductory speech for McDonnell, innovatively using an iPad to deliver her speech. McDonnell, chose more traditional handwritten notes to thank the crowd for their support. McDonnell said he was uncomfortable asking for money, but said the time had come to for him to run and he was grateful for the support. Speaking with a Boston brogue, he left the audience in no doubt that he has the integrity, experience and independence needed to help the Sheriff's Dept. shake off the scandal-ridden legacy of the past administration.

LA County Sheriff candidate Jim McDonnell, flanked by DA Jackie Lacey and retired DA Steve Cooley

McDonnell faces six opponents in the June 3, primary election, and his chances of an outright victory in that election received two significant boosts today. The first was the LA Times report of new claims that his principal rival, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, had authorized attempts to hide an inmate working for the FBI as an informant from authorities probing allegations of misconduct in the county jail. The second, was a report at Witness LA that an independent expenditure committee has been formed to support his candidacy.

McDonnell's campaign website is
and his FaceBook Page can be accessed by clicking here.

DDA Serena Murillo's campaign for Superior Court Judge Fundraiser

DDA Serena Murillo (right), candidate for Judge of the Superior Court Office No 90,
pictured with The Hon. Hilda Solis and DDA Bobby Grace.
DDA Serena Murillo's campaign to become Judge of the Superior Court will get a boost this weekend at a Sunday fundraiser held from 1pm to 4pm at the home of former DDA Michael Kraut. OK, it's not a home it's a mansion, and Kraut wants as many DDAs who want to help Murillo to attend - just send an email to him at and he'll give you the address; you will not be disappointed. Kraut has hosted a number of lavish fundraisers at his Los Feliz mansion, (did I say it was a mansion) and as well as meeting Kraut and his family, you can also meet a duck called Elden. Kraut can explain. Please come and help Serena.


Serena's campaign website is

D-Day for Judicial Candidates
UPDATED: DDAs Chris Frisco (#72) Ann Park (#82) and Serena Murillo #90) are unopposed and will be elected Judges of the Superior Court on June 3, 2014. Full details of the remaining candidates to follow.

There are 14 open seats for candidates to become Judge of the Superior Court, and today is the day that 28 candidates chasing those seats have to decide which seat they will choose for their campaign, or whether they will run at all. By the close of business Friday, the candidates for the following seats will be known.

Office No 22
It seems certain that DDA Amy Carter will face former Referee Pamela Matsumoto .

Office No 48
DDA Carol Rose is one of 5 candidates who filed papers for Office 48, but Friday evening she will know whether her likely sole opponent, Charles Calerdon will withdraw in the light of the latest scandal to tarnish the Calderon political family. Thursday the Pasadena News-Star reported that Calderon paid his son Ian $40k for 'consulting' in his uncontested reelection campaign in 2010. That scandal comes in the heels of the other scandal involving his brothers who have been indicted on corruption charges by the US Attorney's Office. Of the three other filers for 48, Attorney Andrew Stein is expected to run for Office 87, DDA Amy Carter will run for 22, and it's anyone's guess as to which seat DDA Helen Kim will finally choose - she filed for 8 seats. Kim may decide that with Calderon looking very weak, she has a better chance against Rose than any other other DDAs she could run against.

Office No 54
DDA Shannon Knight will face Commissioner Debra Losnick.

Office No 61
DDA Dayan Mathai is currently opposed by Attorney Otis Felder, Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis, and DDA Helen Kim.

Office No 72
DDA Chris Frisco originally filed for office 72, but then DDAs Amy Carter and Helen Kim filed papers too. He knows Carter is out, and if Kim chooses 48, he will be unopposed.

Office No 76
DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada was the sole filer until DDA Helen Kim filed papers. Alison will be anxiously waiting to find out whether DDA Helen Kim decides to take on Rose in 48 and leave her  unopposed, like Frisco.

Office No 82
DDA Ann Park now knows that DDA Amy Carter is likely out of this race, but DDA Helen Kim also filed papers. Kim vs Park is unlikely to be seen on the ballot, so it looks like Park will be unopposed.

Office No 87
DDA Steven Schreiner will likely face Attorney Andrew Stein and Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego.

Office No 90
DDA Serena Murillo, like Frisco, Matsumoto Estrada and Park, will be waiting to see what DDA Helen Kim decides. Serena could be unopposed (sounds like a broken record, doesn't it).

Office No 97
DDA Teresa Pineda-Magno will likely face Deputy City Attorney Songhai Miguda-Armsted, but of course, there's always the possibility that DDA Helen Kim could make this a three-way fight (unlikely).

Office No 107
DDA Joan Chrostek will face Commissioner Emma Castro, but of course, there's always the possibility that DDA Helen Kim could make this (her eighth and final seat) a three-way fight (also unlikely).

Office No 113
DDA Stacy Okun-Weise will likely face Attorney Steven Klaif and possibly former Referee Arnold Mednick if he decides not to run for Office 157.

Office No 138
DDA Donna Hollingsworth-Armstrong will likely face Attorney Marc Gibbons.

Office 157
DDA Andrew Cooper will likely face former Referee Arnold Mednick unless he decides to run for Office 113, in which has Cooper will be unopposed.

It certainly seems that a few people will be biting their nails waiting to see what Helen Kim finally decides to do.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Debbaudt's Debut - ADDA Hosts DDA Judicial Candidates

Downtown Los Angeles' fashionable eatery, Engine Co. No. 28, was the venue for newly-elected ADDA President Marc Debbaudt's much-anticipated debut. This was the first event under Debbaudt's tenure, held in honor of newly-appointed Hon. Judge Frank Tavelman, a former DDA and former ADDA Vice President. The event was also billed as an opportunity to meet the DDA Judicial candidates endorsed by the ADDA, as well as a candidate for Los Angeles County Supervisor 1st District, former US Congresswoman and Labor Secretary, the Hon. Hilda Solis. The ADDA has endorsed Solis to replace term-limited Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Cooper (center) flanked by newly-appointed Hon. Judge Frank Tavelman (left)
and newly-elected ADDA President Marc Debbaudt (right) at Engine Co. No. 28
Anyone hoping expecting Debbaudt to deliver a string of expletive-laden invective touting his ascendancy to the Presidency of the ADDA, would have been disappointed. Debbaudt instead spoke succinctly yet passionately of his goal to partner with labor, law enforcement and victims' rights associations to further the political influence of the ADDA.

Although the focus of the the well-attended event was on the DDA Judicial candidates, several representatives from AFSCME, the labor group who bailed the ADDA out of its financial woes, were also in attendance, perhaps looking a little nervous given Debbaudt's election platform accusing AFSCME of being a "financial vampire, draining your dues, giving you little in return." Let's hope Debbaudt is as successful in negotiating lower dues as he was in orchestrating his first event.

But enough ADDA politics, let's turn to the Deputy District Attorneys who have been endorsed by the ADDA in their campaigns to become Judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court. We start by looking at three DDAs who were amongst the first to announce their candidacies.

Office Numbers 22, 61 & 157

(left to right) Deputy District Attorneys Amy Carter, Andrew Cooper and Dayan Mathai
candidates for Office Numbers 22, 157 & 61.
 Deputy District Attorneys Amy Carter, Andrew Cooper and Dayan Mathai were amongst the first to declare their intention to run for Judge of the Superior Court. In addition to gaining the support of the ADDA, they also enjoy the endorsements of District Attorney Jackie Lacy and former District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Office No. 22 Amy Carter
Although Carter filed papers for four open seats, observers expect Carter to settle on Office No. 22 on March 7, when all declared candidates have to settle on one seat and their all-important ballot designation.

Carter, who will run as a "Sex Crimes Prosecutor," is pitched against Pamela Matsumoto who describes herself as an "Administrative Law Judge." Matsumoto's ballot designation may not be entirely correct. According to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise, she was a Superior Court Referee until being laid off in July 2012 and served briefly as an ALJ hearing benefits cases before that assignment ended in August 2013. She currently is engaged in insurance defense work.

Whether Carter will use any of the $500K that she has on hand to challenge Matsumoto's ballot designation remains to be seen. Experts seem agreed that Matsumoto's current ballot designation is weak compared to Carter's and legal fees will be better spent on the slew of slates that Carter has already locked up. Matsumoto told the Met News that she does not know how much she will spend on her campaign, and will not hire a consultant.

Although to odds seem to favor Carter, she is not leaving anything to chance, and is conducting her campaign with the same attention to detail and preparedness that has defined her career as a most effective prosecutor.

Office No. 61 Dayan Mathai
 Gang Homicide Prosecutor Dayan Mathai currently faces four opponents in the race to replace retiring Judge Nash. Late entrant DDA Helen Kim has filed papers for this seat, as well as seven others; a $14k+ expense that might cause some to question her judgement. On March 7, we will know which seat she chooses, but she would be wise to drop out of this race. That would leave Mathai's likely opponents as Beverly Hills admiralty lawyer B. Otis Felder and Commissioner Jaqueline H. Lewis.

Felder currently describes himself as a "Deputy City Attorney at City of Los Angeles" on Linkedin, however he would be unwise to chose that ballot designation.

It appears that his current occupation is "Attorney at Law Offices of Otis Felder," and he lists past employment at the City Attorney's Office in Central Trials and in San Pedro.

Interestingly, Felder also lists a past employment as "Staff Assistant to Hon. Albert Gore, Jr at United States Senate," presumably the same Al Gore who served as Vice President of the United States and laid claim to have invented the internet. That might explain the confusion over Felder's job description. Once again, we will have to wait until March 7 to learn of Felder's choice of ballot designation, or indeed, if he will run.

Not much is know about Commissioner Lewis. Currently she has no campaign website and may be relying solely on her ballot designation to carry the day on June 3.

Whether Mathai face one or two challengers, he is likely to do well given his ballot designation, preparedness and active campaign.

Office No. 157 Andrew Cooper
Gang Homicide Prosecutor Andrew Cooper was the first DDA to declare his candidacy and has had the longest to prepare. His sole opponent is former Commissioner Arnold Mednick, who is currently working as a sole practitioner.

Mednick probably cannot be lawfully use "Superior Court Referee" as a ballot designation as it is too remote. Mednick would likely draw a challenge should he use a misleading ballot designation, and Cooper appears well prepared to challenge it.

In what appears to be a straight race between Cooper and Mednick, the odds favor Cooper given his campaign resources, preparedness, and ballot designation. But Cooper is not leaving anything to chance. He had a calendar crammed with community meetings and fundraising events.

We will have more on the other DDA candidates in the run up to the March 7 deadline, but for now, here are some photos of the candidates from the ADDA event.

(left to right) The Hon. Frank Tavelman, DDAs Stacy Okun-Wiese and John Colello

(left to right) DDA Shannon Knight, HDDA John Portillo and DDAs Teresa Pineda-Magno and Donna Hollingsworth-Armstrong

(left to right) DDA Bobby Grace, The Hon. Hilda Solis, DDA Serena Murillo
(from top row, left to right) DDAs Carol Rose, Shannon Knight and Joan Chrostek
Amy Carter, Andrew Cooper and Alison Matsumoto-Estrada
Carol Najera and Stacy Okun-Wiese
Attorney Andrew Stein, DDAs Donna Hollingsworth-Armstong, Serena Murillo and Dayan Mathai
The Hon. Hilda Solis and DDA Teresa Pineda-Magno.