2018 Vote #1: Greg’s Recommendations on JUDICIAL Races


California Supreme Court Justice Leonca Kruger, center, between Fourth Appellate District Division 3 (OC!) Justice Thomas Goethals and Fourth District Division 1 Justice Patricia Guerrero


MY BASIC PRINCIPLE: Subjecting judges to popular vote is a terrible idea.  It forces them to protect themselves by setting aside anti-majoritarian protections — such as the Constitution itself, and rules regarding fairness to people who might be the targets of anger of the “mob” — and to cater to principles that should not play a role in determining what positions are right under the law.  So I’ll favor voting against retaining a judge under one of two circumstances:

  1. Something about their character (e.g. sexual misconduct, documented bigotry) or competence
  2. They do something so heinous in making a decision that the public shouldn’t have to suffer it

The second consideration goes beyond my mere, or even strong, disagreement with some opinion or order.  It has to be something truly wild, unprincipled, and beyond what most reasonable judges would do.

To cut to the chase: we don’t have anything like that up this year for any of the judges before us.

California Supreme CourtCarol Corrigan and Leonda Kruger

Some LGBT activists are opposing Corrigan because years ago she voted that the question of same-sex marriage should be decided by the voters rather than the courts.  I would likely have done otherwise, but I don’t think that she was motivated by animus or bigotry, this was before the Supreme Court precedent had changed, and I do think that she’d respect and defend it as settled law in California if a newly anti-LGBT US Supreme Court came to disturb that ruling.  I’ll vote to retain Corrigan.

Some conservatives — though not enough to constitute a movement — are opposing Kruger because, so far as I can tell, she’s a liberal, and perhaps because she’s a woman of color with expressive hair.  I love having her on the court.  I’ll stick to my principle and endorse keeping both; you should too.

California 4th Appellate District, Division 3 (Orange County):

Justices Thomas M. GoethalsRaymond Ikola, and David A. Thompson.  VOTE YES on all 3.

I know of no reason why voters would want to get rid of either Justices Ikola or Thompson and I will vote to retain them.  There is apparently some concerted effort to vote against Justice Goethals, who gave OC Public Defender Scott Sanders the leeway he needed to obtain and present evidence of deep and widespread corruption in the District Attorney’s office.  DO NOT FALL FOR IT.  What Justice Goethals did was in the best and bravest tradition of the judiciary — following the Constitution and the other laws and letting the chips fall where they may.  Two things happened to him as a result.  (1) OCDA Tony Rackauckas’s crew instructed its prosecutors to disqualify Goethals from their murder cases without cause — that was their only choice, because there WAS no just cause —  and (2) he was rightly chosen to ascend to the appellate court for his intelligence, temperament AND commitment to the law.  If anyone tells you to vote out a man who is no less than tied for being our county’s best judge, do the non-violent verbal equivalent of gaveling their voting finger out of order.  VOTING TO RETAIN JUSTICE GOETHALS IS ONE OF YOUR MOST IMPORTANT VOTES IN THIS ELECTION!

California 4th Appellate District, Division 1 (San Diego and Imperial Counties) and Division 2 (Inyo, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties):

While we have a legitimate interest in these races — cases they decide they set precedents for judges in our appellate district to follow, affecting about 11 million people from Inyo down to Imperial and from San Ysidro up to Brea — those of us in this county (which makes up all of Division 3) don’t have much expertise with them or the cases they decide.  So these are literally the only races on any of my ballot that I will intentionally leave blank — with one pretty sizable exception.

For these elections I will go onto sites giving the recommendations of extremely activist judicial conservatives and see whom they’re going after (by recommending a “NO” vote on anyone that they score as below 7 on a scale of 0 to 10.  (Yes, that is how severely they want to restrict the judiciary.  Obviously, they reject the philosophy that I wrote out at the top of this section.)  I will vote “YES” to counteract one “NO” vote that those judges are likely getting here in Orange County from people who have read their recommendations.  For judges on whom they recommend a “YES” vote, I will abstain on anyone unless I have some other reason not to do so, because my interest is in defending against others trying to “fix” the judiciary to their liking, not to try to do so myself.

So here my are recommended votes for the eastern quarter of our state:

Division 1 (San Diego and Imperial Counties):
Cynthia Aaron – YES
William Dato – YES
Judith Haller – Abstain
Richard Huffman – Abstain
Patricia Guerrero – YES
Patricia Benke – Abstain
Joan Irion – YES

Division 2 (Inyo, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties):
Richard Fields – YES
Art McKinster – Abstain
Douglas Miller – Abstain
Marsha Slough – YES

Again, if I wanted to “fix” the judiciary, those “Abstain” votes — meaning, of course, just skip those ones — would be recommendations of “NO.”  But unlike my ideological counterparts, I don’t want to “fix” the judiciary.  I just want the judges to be free to judge intelligently and in good conscience.

Note: “How do I vote on the judges?” is the biggest question I get from voters in every election, so if this is all you’ve been waiting for, then you’re set.  If you have a little while to see what news develops over the coming days and weeks, more installments of my endorsements will be coming out over the next week or two — I’m working around some court filings, unfortunately — and I’ll have a big jumbo collection out by the Friday before Election Day, as well as shorter lists giving Vern and my choices (on which we largely, but not always, agree.)

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)