“Ms. Hayden’s election to the Superior Court will do much to erase the stain that Judge Johnson has left upon it.” ~ Orange County Register Editorial Board
All over Orange County voters are receiving their mail-in ballots for the June 3 primary election. As such, I would like to begin what will, probably, be a series of puff-posts on OCGOP’s many talented women. I do so because of my growing frustration with the Democrats’ “War on Women” rhetoric. The slogan is being used to marginalize an entire group of people: the millions of women who vote Republican. I hope to show how writing-off a woman candidate merely because of party preference is, in effect, a betrayal of feminism and an embrace of bigotry.
Few have impressed me as much as Helen Hayden, candidate for Superior Court Judge. The Laguna Beach resident has two points going for her in the upcoming election: a publicly admonished opponent and an outsider’s perspective from her years in business and law. The Democrats, however, would urge the voter to ignore the merits of her candidacy because Ms. Hayden was endorsed by the local Republican Party. After all, the “War on Women” suggests that nothing could be worse than a Republican. Democrats meet your champion: Judge Derek Johnson.
A good-ol’-boy appointed by former Governor Gray Davis and endorsed by D.A. Tony Rackauckas, the infamous Honorable Judge Johnson was officially admonished for behind the bench commentary during the sentencing of a defendant convicted of rape. In dismissing the prosecutor’s recommended sentence, Johnson seemingly mocked what he referred to as a technical rape. The judge did not believe the woman had been really raped because, according to transcripts, her vagina had not been “shredded” during the sexual assault. The fact was taken to indicate a degree of consent. The judge explained:
“If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. . . . The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case. That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight.”
Since 1980, California law doesn’t require rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting because of threats.
The California Commission on Judicial Performance, in 10-0 vote, admonished Johnson saying the comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics. The commission’s Chairman wrote:
“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary.”
According to Rackauckas, the victim was “understandably devastated and disheartened and continues to be terrified of the defendant.” While Johnson apologized, he stood by the reduced sentence of six years, saying that’s what the case was “worth.”
In what is Johnson’s first campaign since his 2012 admonishment, Ms. Hayden has stepped-up to the plate confident that she can better serve the community. While she is as disturbed as anyone by the notion of a technical rape, the independent Republican is stressing the importance of judicial restraint. Accountable to the people, she believes judges should not hold-out their personal feelings as law and legislate from the bench. Currently the vice president of an insurance company, Ms. Hayden will bring professionalism and perspective to a judiciary dominated by male former prosecutors.
It has been noted that the media omitted the fact that Judge Johnson is a Democrat. Despite his comments on rape, the local Democrats indeed appear more than willing to allow the judge to remain on the bench. It is not Johnson, but the Democrats’ want you to believe it is Republican Helen Hayden waging a “War on Women.” Groups, such as the Laguna Woods Democratic Party, have shunned Ms. Hayden upon learning of her party identification. Not a single women’s group responded when Ms. Hayden reached-out to promote her campaign. Their tacit support of Judge Johnson, along with that of the local Democrats, reveals the sad irony behind the “War on Women.” While shunning a “more-than-capable successor,” the Democrats and the establishment are aligned with a universally condemned form of official sexism.
By helping preserve bigotry behind the bench, the Democrat’s “War on Women” rhetoric is actually setting women back in Orange County. Democrats, along with independence, should ignore the fog and assess Ms. Hayden and Judge Johnson on their respective merits. It goes without saying that I am very confidant my liberal friends will ultimately be happier with a Judge Hayden. It is time to replace Judge Johnson, who is reportedly relegated to handling only minor cases. Defying conventions, Ms. Hayden is the candidate for the job.