Judicial elections are the lowest of low-information elections, and they are some of the most important decisions voters will make on the June 7, 2022 ballot.
There are 24 candidates for 9 competitive seats with every Orange County voter being asked to choose the next Superior Court of Orange County judges. These are non-partisan races and we're asking them to be objective and non biased so there's not a lot of information that helps voters choose. All too often, the ballot designation is what voters rely on and "deputy district attorney" is a big advantage. That might not be a good idea for Orange County voters.
You can read countless articles in the Orange County Register, Voice of OC, and the archives of the OC Weekly for story after story of problematic or illegal actions from our Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's office going back almost 2 decades. Orange County has a number of former deputy district attorneys who were elected judge who were involved in those scandals already. We don’t need to elect more to the bench. We all need to dig deeper before casting a vote to vote for candidates beyond just the name and ballot designation on the ballot.
Fullerton College Professor Jodi Balma asked for input from those who know the candidates best - lawyers, journalists, and faculty. For those reluctant to be on record, an anonymous survey was provided. These professionals shared their personal and professional thoughts and experiences with many candidates to select candidates to interview for the podcast. These interviews are available for the public to learn more about the candidates endorsed by "A Slice of Orange: North Orange County Politics" before the ballots are mailed out in early May 2022.
If a candidate for county judge receives a majority of the votes in June, they are elected. If no candidate receives a majority, there's a runoff with the top two candidates appearing on the November ballot.
Recommendation for Seat #5 -Kimberly La Salle
Kimberly La Salle is extremely qualified and will be an excellent judge. She has experience as a prosecutor, public defender, and private practice working with families. She wants to bring discernment and wisdom to the bench as a judge. The testimonials on her website offer insight into her passion for justice, professional demeanor, and the depth of experience working with families in crisis. Orange County would be lucky to have her as a Superior Court Judge. https://lnns.co/rjh_H70aVd2
Why I can't support Claudia Alvarez, Seat #5
Voters should research politician Claudia Alvarez who has served on the Santa Ana City Council and Rancho Santiago Community College Board. Many have said she is combative and dismissive of those who disagree with her. She was censured by the Santa Ana City Council for comparing a local Jewish businessman to Adolph Hitler during a council meeting. More troubling, she didn’t abstain from voting on that censure motion. She was accused of violating the Brown Act by limiting public comment at government meetings. She does not have the professional demeanor to serve as judge. I encourage voters to spend some time searching the archives of the OC Weekly, Voice of OC, and Orange Juice Blog for more on Alvarez.
Recommendation for Seat #11 – Marc Gibbons
Marc Gibbons has the perspective, temperament, and experience to be a fair and impartial judge where all parties can be heard and where justice will be served in his courtroom. He has decades of experience as a criminal trial attorney and is endorsed by judges, prosecutors, criminal and civil lawyers, civic leaders, and law enforcement. He is the best choice for voters without reservation. His opponent is not.
Why I can't support Shawn Nelson, Seat #11
Shawn Nelson is a longtime politician who will have high name recognition and a lot of money to spend on this campaign. He’s also has been accused of ethical violations, including campaign finance violations for seeking donations for this campaign while on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2016. His demeanor on both the Fullerton City Council and Orange County Board of Supervisors has been called “prickly” “aggressive” “combative” “unethical” and a “hypocrite” which are not adjectives associated with the professional demeanor we want in a judge. Voters may remember Nelson’s hypocrisy in opting for a pension after building his campaign railing against public pensions or collecting a car allowance from the county while also getting a publicly-funded car for free as a perk of his appointment to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Nelson’s ballot designation of “Chief Assistant to the District Attorney” is also revealing given the contentious relationship between DA Todd Spitzer and Nelson as they accused each other of unethical behavior as elected officials at odds over any number of issues and then took a job working for Spitzer to position himself as a candidate for judge. He's amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations so he will be spending heavily to get this seat. I encourage voters to spend some time searching the archives of the OC Weekly, Voice of OC, and Orange Juice Blog for more on Nelson.
Recommendation for Seat #9 – Joe Dane
As an Orange County Superior Court Commissioner, Joe Dane has proven he has the experience and professional demeanor we want in our courts. He was chosen for that position from the full bench of sitting Orange County Judges and has earned their support to be elected. Orange County would be lucky to have Joe Dane as a Superior Court Judge. https://lnns.co/BdID_eNP6VA
Recommendation for Seat #21 – Ray Brown
Ray Brown is an experienced attorney certified by the State Bar as a specialist in civil trial advocacy with many awards. Many noted his professional demeanor that is perfectly suited for the bench. He approaches the law with reverence and respect. He will serve with humility, impartiality, and decorum to provide fairness and ensure that Orange County courts deliver equal justice under the law.
Our Orange County Superior Court is larger than just criminal trials. The incumbent judges are over-represented by the professional experience and background of prosecutors from the OC District Attorney’s Office. Having judicial candidates with diverse backgrounds should be something voters consider. Ray Brown has extensive civil trial experience and will bring that perspective to the OC Court.
Why I can't support Erin Beltran Rowe, Seat #21
Erin Beltran Rowe is the Orange County District Attorney’s Office's Chief Ethics Officer. In her candidate statement she says she’s charged with “providing ethical guidance to prosecutors to ensure public trust and fairness.” Given the track record of ethical violations in the DA’s Office and the erosion of public trust under her watch, I’m not sure she merits a promotion to judge.
Recommendation for Seat #28 – Jessica Cha
Fullerton College Professor Jodi Balma and the host of “A Slice of Orange” endorses Jessica Cha for Orange County Superior Court Judge, Seat #28. Cha is a family law attorney who would bring her experience of helping people and families navigate the legal system to the bench. She would also be the first Asian American elected to be Superior Court judge in Orange County. She has the professional demeanor and ethical integrity we want in a judge. She is dedicated to ensuring a level playing field in her courtroom and has the temperament and ethics to be an excellent judge. Her opponent does not.
Why I can't support Eric Scarbrough, Seat #28
Eric Scarbrough is one of the DDA’s involved with the Wilkins scandal. We should not reward unethical behavior from the District Attorney’s office with a seat on the bench. From the articles linked below: “A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ruled that the Orange County District Attorney’s team acted so badly in the case of a (Wilkins) defendant blamed in the death of a sheriff’s deputy that he dismissed a charge of first degree murder.” “The current prosecutor in the Valladares case is Senior Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarbrough, who is running for judge in the June 7 primary. Sanders wrote he will also seek to have Scarbrough removed from the case because of his actions in the Wilkins affair.”
Recommendation for Seat #30 – Michele Bell
Michele Bell already serves as an Orange County Superior Court Commissioner, so she already has the experience of adjudicating cases in the courtroom. She was chosen for that position from the full bench of sitting Orange County Judges and has earned their support to be elected. Her list of endorsements is impressive and shows broad support for Bell to be chosen for this seat that has the most candidates of any on the ballot. Prior to serving as a commissioner, Bell was an Orange County deputy Public Defender and worked If elected she would become the first Black Latina Judge in Orange County. No one can replace former OC Public Defender and Seat #30 Judge Frank Ospino who died earlier this year which opened this seat for election. I’d like to think Ospino would be pleased to see Bell honor his legacy by presiding over his courtroom for years to come.
Recommendation for Seat #33 – Brett Wiseman
Wiseman is an experienced attorney who would be an excellent judge. He is a member of the Orange County Bar Association and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers with extensive experience in civil litigation handling trial, bench and jury, class actions, arbitration, and before administrative bodies in this state. Wiseman is admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court; the United States District Court for the Central, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California; and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Recommendation for Seat #45 – Israel Claustro
Israel “Izzy” Claustro is a seasoned trial lawyer with a reputation for treating everyone with dignity and respect. He has a commitment to fairness, integrity, and independence that will foster trust in the justice system which is often in short supply in Orange County.
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