On November 6, voters are being asked to weigh in on whether or not to retain two California Supreme Court justices; 17 judges currently serving on eight divisions of the court of appeals; and eight Los Angeles County Superior Court judges.
Technically, judges don’t run for reelection. Instead, they “stand for retention.” It is highly unusual for a judge to receive a vote of no confidence and be forced to give up a judicial appointment, but it does occasionally happen.
In 1986, California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird, the first woman to serve as Chief Justice in California, became the first chief justice to be recalled by voters. In 2016, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was recalled, after sentencing Stanford student Brock Turner to just six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
Even if the vote for a judge is more a formality than anything else, it is still important. However, there is so little information available about the judges up for retention that many voters pass over that section of the ballot. That’s unfortunate, because the decisions those judges make can impact the electorate directly in numerous ways. It also means that just a small percentage of voters represent the entire electorate.
The Messenger Mountain News has worked to turn up at least one piece of information about each judge. For the Superior Court justices, we have listed the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s rating of each. This rating ranges from “Not Qualified,” to “Exceptionally Well Qualified,” based on a number of criteria that include experience and temperament.
For the Superior Court and Court of Appeals justices, where ratings are not readily available, we have sought to provide information on when they were appointed, and by which governor, as well as at least one fact about each individual.
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT. (YES/NO)
Only two justices are up for retention this year. Voters are asked to vote yes or no.
Leondra R. Kruger. The second youngest justice on the California Supreme Court, Kruger was appointed in 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown, and is only the second African-American woman to serve on the court. Prior to becoming an associate justice, Kruger served as deputy assistant attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, and was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Carol A. Corrigan. Appointed in 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Corrigan served as a judge in the California First District Court of Appeal before her appointment to the state Supreme Court. She began her career as deputy district attorney in Alameda County in 1975.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 1 (YES/NO)
Helen Bendix. Appointed associate justice by Governor Jerry Brown in April 2018, Bendix has served on the trial court for 21 years. She is also an avid musician, playing in the Palisades Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra.
Victoria G. Chaney. Appointed to the court in 1990 by Governor George Deukmejian, elevated to L.A. Superior Court in 1994 by Governor Pete Wilson, Chaney is a licensed and registered public health nurse, in addition to being a judge.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 2 (YES/NO)
Elwood Lui. The Administrative Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 2, Liu was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015. Prior to his confirmation, he served as associate justice on Division 1, and as a judicial officer beginning in 1975. Liu was a founding member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association.
Victoria M. Chavez. An associate justice for the Court of Appeal since 2005, when she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chavez has served as a Superior Court Judge since 1992. Her official bio states that she is primarily assigned to felony trials but did have assignments involving administration/supervision, master calendar, civil trials, and law and motion.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 3 (YES/NO)
Anne H. Egerton. Governor Grey Davis appointed Egerton to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2001. Egerton, an Arizona native, is a life member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the co-chair of the Los Angeles Criminal Justice Inn of Court, and a member of the Criminal Justice Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She has been married for more than 36 years to John Shepard Wiley, Jr., also a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Luis A. Lavin. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015, Lavin has served as a member of the Judicial Council’s Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee since 2016. Since joining the Court of Appeal, Justice Lavin has also served as a justice pro tempore on the California Supreme Court.
Halim Dhanidina. Appointed as a justice of the California Court of Appeal by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012, Dhanidina is the first Muslim ever appointed judge in the state. Prior to being appointed a judge, he served as Deputy District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles for 14 years, prosecuting cases for the Hardcore Gang and Major Crimes Divisions. He is also a founding member of the Association of South Asian Prosecutors, and a member of the Asia Pacific American and South Asian Bar Association.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 4 (YES/NO)
Thomas Willhite. A lifelong Angeleno, Willhite was appointed as a judge in 1990 by Governor Pete Wilson. In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Justice Willhite as an Associate Justice to Division 4 of the Second Appellate District. Willhite’s biography states that he has been a judicial education instructor in such topics as sentencing, habeas corpus proceedings, summary judgment proceedings, jury instructions, and judicial ethics.
Nora M. Manella. Another native Angeleno, Manella was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by Governor Deukmejian in 1990. In 1994, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton o be U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, where she served for five years. In 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Court of Appeal.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 5 (YES/NO)
Dorothy C. Kim. Appointed to the bench in December 2013, by Governor Brown, Kim served from 2001 to 2013 as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California, including as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
Carl H. Moor. Appointed by Governor Brown in 2013 as a Judge to the Los Angeles Superior Court, and in 2018, as Justice to the California Court of Appeal. Moor has also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California over two periods totaling more than six years.
Lamar W. Baker. Appointed to the court by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015, Baker previously served as special assistant and associate counsel to President Barak Obama, and as deputy assistant attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy, Washington, D.C.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 6 (YES/NO)
Arthur Gilbert. First appointed to the court by Governor Jerry Brown in 1982. Gilbert became presiding justice in 1999. In 1964, He began his legal career in 1964 as a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles, and was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1975, where he served until 1980 when he was appointed to the Superior Court.
Martin J. Tangeman. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015, Tangeman previously served as a judge on the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo.
JUSTICE, CALIFORNIA STATE COURT OF APPEAL; DISTRICT 2, DIVISION 7 (YES/NO)
Gail R. Feuer. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018, Feuer previously served as a judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, where she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. Feuer also served as senior attorney and director for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Southern California Air Quality Program.
John L. Segal. Appointed to the court by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015, Segal previously served as Los Angeles County Superior Court judge for nearly 15 years.
Tricia A. Bigelow. Appointed to the court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, Bigelow became presiding justice of Division Eight in 2009. Prior to being appointed a judge, Bigelow was a deputy attorney general for nearly a decade.
JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT: COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES
Four County of Los Angeles Superior Court offices are in play November 6. The Los Angeles Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee has released the following ratings on a scale ranging from Not Qualified to Well Qualified, based on ability, experience, competence, integrity, and temperament.
Judge of the Superior Court: County of Los Angeles; Office 4
Verónica Sauceda: Well Qualified
Alfred A. Coletta: Qualified
Judge of the Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 113
Javier Perez: Well Qualified
Michael P. Ribons: Qualified
Judge of the Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 16
Sydne Jane Michel: Qualified
Patricia “Patti” Hunter: Qualified
Judge of the Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 60
Holly L. Hancock: Qualified
Tony J. Cho: Qualified