UPDATE: No one ran against Ferrentino; he’s in.

Below the photo. preserved for posterity, is the original (though changing) text of the story of the race to succeed Judge Clayton Biggs on the Orange County Superior Court.

A quick review: Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Ferrentino served for years in the Orange County DA’s office as a prosecutor under disgraced former District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. When Judge Biggs didn’t file for re-election, I decided that it would be goof to look into ADA Ferrentino’s background to ensure that he was not someone who had been involved in the snitch scandal, the currently unfolding evidence tampering and withholding scandal, and other abuses — because, if we can help it, we don’t want someone like that to be a judge.

Because Judge Biggs was eligible (still alive, licensed, etc.) to run for re-election, it seemed clear to me that the race to replace him would go into “extension” — that is an eligible candidate would have until Wednesday at 5:00 to file to replace him.  I confirmed this with the Registrar of Voters office and went to bed Thursday night satisfied that I’d have time both to research Ferrentino’s record and try to recruit a candidate to oppose him, if necessary, over the weekend.

I got a call just before 8:00 a.m. from the Registrar’s office, in which I was apologetically told that there had been an error and that the filing deadline for the judicial seat would not be extended.  That meant no time for research or recruitment.  This struck me as a terrible rule, and I wrote and published this piece prior to going to work as a consequence.

When I got back from work on Friday night, I noted that the ROV’s “Candidate Log” indicated pretty clearly that it was going into extension — and look, this is the sort of mistake that I make a dozen times a day, so I’m not exercised about it — but I wouldn’t be able to confirm with the ROV until Monday.  What I did instead was to call Todd Spitzer today (Monday) and asked told him that I had a question regarding the replacement for Judge Biggs.

Somewhat to my surprise, the DA called me back within a few hours.  I explained my concerns about Ferrentino, and asked him if he had, say, endorsed him?

Spitzer reminded me that his pledge in his race was that as DA he would not be endorsing candidates for office … but that because as DA he has better information than voters could otherwise obtain (my paraphrase) he would endorse for judicial seats.

And Spitzer told me that he had endorsed Ferrentino without reservations and that he thought  that he would be a good and fair judge.  I think that I can fairly infer from that that Spitzer does not believe that Ferrentino was, or would be, involved in any of poisonous shenanigans that have plagued our county’s administration of criminal justice for two decades before Spitzer beat Rackauckas thirteen months ago.  He doesn’t have to cozy up to or cover up for such people, and I don’t think that he’s doing so here.

Look, if Senior Public Defender Scott Sanders or Ashleigh Aitken or the heretofore undiscovered clone of Justice Thomas Goethals gets into the race by COB on Wednesday, I’d probably endorse them regardless of what Spitzer has done.  The main thing I care about is that Ferrentino does not seem to be a continuation of the Rackauckas regime — and, before he walks into office without an election, I’m glad to have had the chance to find that out.

FROM THE OC REGISTER:  Senior deputy district attorney Tony Ferrentino speaks at the tribute for his childhood friend Benjamin Brenneman who was murdered 30 years ago, Friday. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: benjaminbrenneman.0826 – 8/22/11 – ROD VEAL, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – Locals hold a tribute service for Benjamin Lee Brenneman in memoriam of the 30th anniversary of his murder. Brenneman was a 12-year-old newspaper delivery boy for the Orange County Register in 1981 when he was murdered on his delivery route by a recently-paroled child molester. His mom Kay Brenneman spoke to wellwishers about the need to keep the death penalty in California at Modjeska Park in Anaheim Friday. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas was on hand as well.

The Registrar of Voters office called me this morning with a correction: judicial races such as the one to replace Judge Carlton Biggs in Office 4 DO NOT go into extension.   So, if no one else files for this sole open seat by 5:00 today, ADA Tony Ferrentino will become a judge by default without an election.

I don’t think that I know Judge Biggs or Tony Ferrentino, nor do I know if Ferrentino had knowledge that Biggs would not be running for office.   But I will tell you that this not allowing extensions — which I presume comes from a level above the OCDA’s office — is a bad rule.  It allows people with inside information to get a jump start on a seat and cuts in half (if not more) the time they have to be vetted.

Ferrentino was a Senior Assistant District Attorney under Tony Rackauckas — and, as importantly, under Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her assistant, now-Sheriff Don Barnes — during a time when we are now learning there were massive and astonishing violations of the responsibility to turn over exculpatory evidence.  Without making any accusation (because I’m in no position to do so) I’d like to know: did he know about what was going on?  Was he in a position where he should have known?  Did he participate in any of the impropriety?

I was planning on looking into this over the weekend, when I (as a citizen journalist) have more free time.  Now, unless someone else filed for the office by 5:00, it will be moot.

I’m sorry to have given anyone thinking of running the notion that they had until Wednesday.  I don’t blame the ROV for following a rule imposed from above, but this is a terrible, terrible rule.

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.)