Judicial Candidates With Highest Peer Approval Win Voter Support

Voter preference in Los Angeles County's judicial races coincided very closely with rankings that reflected the best judgment of their peers -- other attorneys and judges.

In the semi-official results from the June primary, all of the top vote-getters were equally or more qualified for the job compared to other candidates, according to rankings released in mid-May by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, a voluntary nonprofit professional organization not to be confused with the State Bar.

LACBA's judicial evaluations committee conducted a background investigation on each candidate, sending out questionnaires to up to 75 of their peers and interviewing them in person when possible. The published report serves alongside newspaper and other media endorsements as one way to shed light on what is otherwise a very low-profile and murky aspect of our electoral process in California, since judges cannot campaign in the traditional sense and information about the candidates can be hard to come by for non-insiders.

The report is not helpful in every case, since it includes only four possible rankings and two or all of the candidates can receive the same one. But wherever there was a difference, voters went with the candidate who received the higher rating. Below are the vote tallies alongside the LACBA rankings for each judicial race.

CandidateVotesPercentLACBA Ranking
Office 3
SEAN D. COEN300,60351.38Qualified
CRAIG GOLD111,39019.04Qualified
JOE ESCALANTE107,721 18.41Not Qualified
LAURENCE N. KALDOR65,39511.18Not Qualified
Office 10
HON. SANJAY T. KUMAR349,41760.6Exceptionally Well Qualified
KIM SMITH227,20739.4Not Qualified
Office 38
HON. LYNN D. OLSON381,35069.75Not Qualified
DOUGLAS W. WEITZMAN165,37230.25Not Qualified
Office 65
ANDREA C. THOMPSON309,63654.69Well Qualified
SHANNON KNIGHT142,17125.11Qualified
MATT SCHONBRUN114,32520.19Qualified
Office 78
HON. JAMES D. OTTO396,22469.91Exceptionally Well Qualified
KENNETH R. HUGHEY170,56830.0Not Qualified
Office 114
ERIC HARMON353,42961.35Well Qualified
BERJ PARSEGHIAN115,98920.13Well Qualified
BEN M. BREES106,70518.52Qualified

About the Author

Web Editor for SoCal Connected, KCET's award-winning television newsmagazine. He has worked in just about every medium, with stories appearing on TV, radio, Web, and print. He is also the editor of the Online Journalism Review at ...
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