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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ADDA's New Bylaws - A Change For The Better


EDITORIAL:
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: www.AcevesForJudge.com

 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: www.ArchuletaForJudge.com
Like her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/archuletaforjudge

 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 : www.BergerForJudge2016.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Berger2016

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 : www.TownsendForJudge.com
Like her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Susan-Townsend-for-Judge-727329127413757

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: www.MarshallForJudge.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Philip-marshall-for-judge-921740384583588/

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: www.PeretzForJudge.com

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: www.PerezForJudge.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Perez-For-Judge-1505986573045293/

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: www.SchreinerForJudge.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Schreinerforjudge/

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: www.StodelForJudge.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Jeffrey-Stodel-for-Judge-1646172585655554

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: www.KhouryForJudge.org
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Naser-Khoury-for-Los-Angeles-County-Superior-Court-Judge-2016-401585476701344/

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: www.KimForJudge2016.com

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: www.SteinForJudge.com
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewMSteinforsuperiorcourt2016/

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: www.AaronWeissman4Judge.org
Like him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/aaronweissman4judge/

 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: www.ZuzgaForJudge.com 
Like her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Zuzga-for-Judge-477373252434114/

ANALYSIS:
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 www.LADAConfidential.com.


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 www.LADAConfidential.com. Let the posting begin!