Monday, March 3, 2014

Race for Judge turns ugly as March 7 deadline approaches

28 candidates are chasing 14 open seats to become Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 3, 2014 primary election. Sixteen candidates are Deputy District Attorneys, seven are attorneys, three are commissioners, and two are Deputy City Attorneys.

A seventeenth Deputy District Attorney, Carol Najera, is running against sitting Judge James Pierce.

Many candidates have filed papers to run for multiple seats, and have until March 7 to finalize their choice. As that deadline approaches the mud has already started flying as candidates seek to bolster their chances by pointing out perceived deficiencies with their opponents.

Party Politics mires race for Office Number 48

Deputy District Attorney Efain Aceves started the mud slinging in the race for Office Number 48. Aceves was one of six candidates to file papers for the seat now held by retiring Judge Ronald Sohigan. DDAs Amy Carter, Carole Rose, and Helen Kim also filed, as did as former Criminal Court Bar Association President Andrew Stein and former state legislator Charles Calderon. With Carter,  Kim and Stein expected to run for other seats, Aceves looked set for a three-way race with Rose and Calderon however, the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported that Aceves was dropping out.

Aceves had previously accused Calderon of "seeking to come in an buy a race," perhaps a reference to Caleron's perceived grip on Latino-Democrat power brokers keen to restore faith in the Calderon brand in the face of federal indictments recently handed down to his brothers; Senator Ronald Calderon and former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon. Aceves added that a judicial race "should be above these types of politics."

The Met News reported that, while making no reference to Charles Calderon, Aceves expressed fears that the Calderon indictments "may end up injecting even more politics into a judicial race that I feel should be above partisan politics," and suggested that Calderon not run. "Frankly, if Calderon truly cared about the judiciary he would drop out of the race and not bring the cloud of corruption that follows the Calderon name into this respected institution," Aceves said.

With Aceves out, the race for Office Number 48 now looks like being a fight between 34-year veteran prosecutor Carol Rose and 'beleaguered by association' Calderon armed with a suitcase full of campaign cash and partisan endorsements. If anyone deserved the support of the Latino-Democrat caucus, it was Aceves who has the experience, credentials and qualifications to be a judge. It is a great shame, if not a disgrace, that a qualified candidate has been forced to drop out in the face of misguided partisan politics.

The move to rescue the Calderon brand could, however, backfire as voters typically uniformed in judicial races, will likely revile at the sight of a Calderon on the ballot. Indeed, the LA Times recently noted that the "Caleron name may lose its luster." This could give Rose an unexpected boost to her campaign. Much will depend on her choice of ballot designation as well as her ability to muster support.

Carol Rose's campaign website is

For those interested, Calderon's website is Calderon states he was a Deputy City Attorney in the late 1970's, trying "approximately 90 jury trials" before embarking on his political career. It is unclear whether he has seen the inside of a courtroom since that time. It is unlikely that Calderon will show his face in Federal Court in support of his indicted brothers.

Stein Slams Schreiner for "Bullshit" remark to jury

Left to right: Deputy DA Steven Schreiner, Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego and Attorney Andrew Stein
In the race for Office Number 87, former Criminal Bar Association President Andrew Stein blasted opponent Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner for a portion of his argument to a jury in the case of People v. Orozco et al, NA090280.

In an email blast to supporters and the media, Stein attached a transcript containing Schreiner's remarks and asked recipients to "share this transcript with all your friends who are voters!" and posed the question "Do you want this man sitting as a JUDGE?" Stein did not indicate which portion of Schreiner's agrument he found to be improper, however, replies to the email suggest the use of the word "Bullshit" was considered inappropriate.

Schreiner prosecuted the special circumstances murder trial at the Norwalk Courthouse last year, and when the Hon. Judge Tomson T. Ong allowed Schreiner and defense attorneys ten minutes apiece to respond to questions posed by the jury during deliberations, Schreiner used the 'B' word.

One recipient suggested that Schreiner was also wrong to argue that the half-million dollar cost of the trial was a factor to be considered by the jury, and that saying the case was "the most thoroughly investigated, documented case I have ever seen," may constitute improper 'vouching' for the credibility of witnesses and evidence, both of which could undermine the verdict on appeal. "While I sympathize with Schreiner's frustration, he does not have the temperament needed to be a judge." he said.

It is interesting that Stein decided to take aim at Schreiner in the opening of what is certain to be a bitterly fought race. Stein could easily have attacked his other opponent, Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego, who last ran unsuccessfully against then Deputy District Attorney Alan Schneider.

Griego is understood to have asked disgraced former City Attorney Carmen Trutanich to transfer him from his obscure civil law duties, to the criminal division so that he could use the ballot designation "criminal prosecutor" in his bid to become a judge. The Metropolitan News-Enterprise blasted Griego, calling the use of his chosen ballot designation "misleading" given that he has not prosecuted any criminal cases and as of March 8, 2010, all he had done was "read manuals." Griego garnered a  "Not Qualified" rating from the Los Angeles County Bar Association in his failed bid. 

In his current bid to become a judge, Griego hails his achievements as a "Criminal Gang Prosecutor" in the "highly coveted Anti-Gang Unit," where he claims to have "successfully prosecuted over 150 gang and quality of life crimes" since being "elevated" to the unit by Trutanich in 2011, after his defeat - Griego's not Trutanich's. Griego's current claims are likely to be closely scrutinized by Stein and others in the light of his prior conduct. Tellingly, Griego boasts the support of Trutanich on his endorsement page.

Andrew Stein's campaign website is

Tom Griego's campaign website is

Steven Schreiner does not appear to have a campaign website at this time.

The battle lines for the 14 open seats will become clearer March 7, when candidates who have filled papers in multiple seats; DDAs Helen Kim (8), and Amy Carter (4), Attorneys Andrew Stein (2) and Arnold Mednick (2), make their final choices.


Anonymous said...

Aceves should have stood up to the Calderon bullies and not caved in. We've seen this kind of thing before when Mario Trujillo was pressured into backing out of the DA race because Trutanich had the Latino big boys on his side. That and of course the sweetener; a promise of being promoted to being the legislative advisor in Sacramento. Not saying Aceves got anything for dropping out, but the whole thing stinks. I hope the Times carries on digging and Rose wins

Anonymous said...

Pretty shitty of Stein to publish that transcript. It's completely out of context. But that's what defense attorneys do; tell half the truth. Schreiner should have got ADDA award for prosecutor of the year for winning that case and putting a bunch of cold blooded killers away. I hope Marc Debbaudt steps up to the plate and honors him.

Anonymous said...

Nominate Schreiner for prosecutor of the year next time around and DDAs will have the opportunity to vote for him.

Anonymous said...

Stein is grasping at straws with this 'bullshit.' Voters will be more impressed with what Schreiner said than he thinks. After all, Schreiner was 100% right. Some jurors were engaging in misconduct and trying to derail the legal system because of racial bias. Any DDA who hadn't experienced that probably hasn't tried a real case. IMHO Schreiner was just saying it the way it is. Isn't that what the voters want?

Anonymous said...

Carol Rose may not be the ideal candidate for judge, but compared to Calderon she is extremely well qualified. She has my vote.

monkeymoron said...

Steve Schreiner is one of the 4 or 5 finest trial attorneys in the Office, with 70 odd murder trials and 6 on Death Row. A judge ordered further argument because of obvious juror misconduct. It was Bullshit. And worse Joe Friday puts up a picture of the ADDA endorsed candidates with Andy Stein in the photo. Every trial attorney in the DA's Office knows his reputation. It would be difficult to find a less trustworthy attorney. A slap in the face to Mr. Schreiner and Justice.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Andrew Stein for taking a court reporter's work product and copying it, distributing it,posting it on the internet, and then asking others to do the same, in clear violation of California Government Code Section 69954(d). This is not the kind of Judge I want on the bench.

Anonymous said...

wow! these posts are all from the DDA's buddies. this was not work product and if you think defense attorneys tell 1/2 truths, you are missing the reality. DA's do ANYTHING to win, hide evidence etc we do not need anymore DA's as Judges.. Stein knows the law more than any of the other candidates.. just look at endorsements

Anonymous said...

Stein is the better choice over the inexperienced Griego but to be fair Stein has his own baggage. As a former Deputy Public Defender with 25 years experience I knew Stein, on multiple occasions, world approach some of my clients outside the courtroom, give them his card and tell them I was not a real attorney. Many of these clients would tell me the exact same scenario. I can only imagine how many other PDs and court appointed lawyers he's trashed over the years to get business.

Then there's Griego who would not make a single decision on settling a case before running like a scared child to his supervisors. Calling Griego a "gang prosecutor" makes me kind of gag considering I defended hundreds of gang cases against the City Attorney's office which only prosecutes low level misdemeanor crimes (as well as against the DAs office) and for some reason Griego was never the prosecutor. But I guess some people can be invisible.