By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Another candidate, Daniel Feldstern, is an 18-year prosecutor, well regarded, who supervises the Glendale and Burbank branches. He formerly handled civil cases at a private firm. His Bar Association rating is "well qualified."Miguel Angel Dager, a deputy city attorney, works in the Public Finance Division, drafting laws and handling issues related to public bonds and taxes in court. He previously spent five years in the office’s criminal division. Also got a "well qualified" rating.
Our pick is Mildred Escobedo, a Superior Court referee since 1998, a job that has nothing to do with wearing a striped shirt and blowing a whistle. She is hired by the full-time judges on an hourly basis to handle cases when there aren’t enough judges, which is always. She can do trials on stipulation, or "stip," which means that lawyers from both sides agree to have her as judge — and most do. Because the word "referee" is obscure in this sense, she tried to get herself called a "judicial officer" or "temporary judge" on the ballot. Pat/Dave Campbell sued, and won, so "referee" it is. You have to be very well regarded by the judges and by attorneys on both sides to keep a referee job for this long. The L.A. Superior Court, with 429 judges, has only a handful of Latinas. We’re all for promoting another capable one like Escobedo. Her Bar Association rating is "qualified," which isn’t the highest in this contest, but then the Bar ratings are not always the last word on who’s best for the job.
Office 29Gus Gomez
Six largely qualified candidates are vying for this office. Three of them work as prosecutors for D.A. Steve Cooley. Running down this list, we start with Edward Nison, a well-regarded prosecutor with 18 years of experience. Rated "not qualified" by the Los Angeles County Bar Association for reasons not apparent to us. "It appears someone, somewhere, was out to get me," he said. The "instructor" part of his candidate designation is for teaching police officers how not to screw up evidence.
Lori Jones, another Cooley trooper, has 15 years of experience as a prosecutor. The Bar Association rates her as "qualified." That’s about right.
The third Cooley deputy, Jeffrey S. Gootman,walks around with a computer database of thousands of case summaries, presumably so lazy judges don’t have to look things up when he’s in their courtroom. Formerly a civil practitioner, he’s been in the D.A.’s Office for 20 years. The Bar Association calls him "well qualified," the highest rating in this race.
Deputy public defender C. Edward Macklists his occupation as "trial attorney" for ballot purposes. He told voters at a candidates forum that he wants to do something about the court’s budget, but, in fact, judges have no budgetary control unless their peers elect them to their executive committee. He also said he would work outside the courtroom to stop violence and gang killings — again, not part of the job, though a laudable aim. His Bar Association rating is "qualified."
Law school professor Larry Layton has run four times before. And he’s really a professor, but that’s because he hired himself. He owns and operates a law school in Acton which, last time we checked, had only six students. Rated as "qualified."Gus Gomezalso makes a living as a prosecutor, but he’s with the state Attorney General’s Office. He started out as a transactional lawyer, a nice way of saying he never went to court. He became an expert in municipal finance (tax law, bonds), then went to the A.G.’s Office 11 years ago and has handled both criminal and civil litigation. Also a member of the Glendale City Council. His rating is "qualified." He gets our nod in a close call.
Office 52Laura F. Priver Priver is a prosecutor who serves as the grand jury adviser, which means she pretty much tells the grand jury whom to indict. A prosecutor for 19 years, she’s well regarded, with an impressive array of endorsements, including both D.A. Cooley and his predecessor Gil Garcetti. Even people who don’t like the idea of voting for prosecutors might be okay with her. The Bar Association rates her as "well qualified," the only candidate for this office to achieve that high a rating.
The other candidates are administrative law judge John C. Gutierrezand prosecutor Larry Diamond. Both have "qualified" ratings from the Bar Association. Gutierrez works as a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Court judge in Van Nuys. He got his law degree in 1978 but didn’t become a member of the State Bar until 1983. It’s not clear how broad his legal knowledge is outside workers’ comp. He refers questions to a media representative. Diamond’s notable case was the conviction of Robert Rosenkrantz, the convicted killer who, in 2000, was denied parole by Gray Davis in the face of public pressure that rallied behind the idea that Rosenkrantz deserved to be paroled. Diamond disagreed. The group Justice for Homicide Victims gave Diamond an award for his work in opposing such paroles.