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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.

Candidate Votes Percent LACBA Ranking
Office 3
SEAN D. COEN 300,603 51.38 Qualified
CRAIG GOLD 111,390 19.04 Qualified
JOE ESCALANTE 107,721 18.41 Not Qualified
LAURENCE N. KALDOR 65,395 11.18 Not Qualified
Office 10
HON. SANJAY T. KUMAR 349,417 60.6 Exceptionally Well Qualified
KIM SMITH 227,207 39.4 Not Qualified
Office 38
HON. LYNN D. OLSON 381,350 69.75 Not Qualified
DOUGLAS W. WEITZMAN 165,372 30.25 Not Qualified
Office 65
ANDREA C. THOMPSON 309,636 54.69 Well Qualified
SHANNON KNIGHT 142,171 25.11 Qualified
MATT SCHONBRUN 114,325 20.19 Qualified
Office 78
HON. JAMES D. OTTO 396,224 69.91 Exceptionally Well Qualified
KENNETH R. HUGHEY 170,568 30.0 Not Qualified
Office 114
ERIC HARMON 353,429 61.35 Well Qualified
BERJ PARSEGHIAN 115,989 20.13 Well Qualified
BEN M. BREES 106,705 18.52 Qualified