A number of years ago a client asked me whom he should vote for. It was a presidential election and I assumed he was asking about either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I was wrong. He had absolutely no intention of voting for Hillary Clinton… his choice for the presidency had been long ago decided. He was not a particularly enthusiastic Trump supporter, but he was an extremely enthusiastic Hillary detractor.
In this we shared complete common ground.
What he was really interested in was the slate of candidates running for judicial positions.
He wanted to know my thoughts on whom he should give the nod to.
This, by the way, is not at all unreasonable.
The way the California election system works regarding judicial positions has both a Byzantine complexity, along with a dash of unmitigated corruption.
When someone becomes a judge there is no public posting their that term is coming to an end. It is up to those who are seeking to challenge them to petition the Registrar of Voters to figure out when they are up for election. If no one files to run against them, even though they are technically in an election cycle, their name does not even appear on the ballot. As a result, many, if not most, judges stay on the bench a very, very long time.
When a vacancy opens up… usually as a result of retirement or death (but occasionally as a result of arrest or indictment), candidates file to fill that seat.
Los Angeles County is a tad different. There, a finite pool of elected and appointed judges exists. When the pool is depleted elections are had to fill the pool. New judges can wind up bouncing from courtroom to courtroom until their tenure has solidified and they find a permanent home.
But who are these people running for judges?
The election documents give sparse, if any, guidance on who they are. Generally they are DAs, and they use their position of being DAs to literally telegraph to the voters they will be the second-line of prosecution after they get elected.
(As a sidebar, I have to tell you I really, really hate this. A judge should be… must be…a completely impartial umpire. Their job is to call balls and strikes, not to be a robed prosecutor or advocate for the State. If they want to continue to be a litigator they can stay at counsel tables. Otherwise, it is absolutely essential they see their new role as distinctly different and separate from the government. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.)
There are times, though, when a private attorney does make it onto the bench, and my experience has been they make the best judges. They are, in fact, impartial, empirical, and, in the final analysis: human. They are not beholden to their former colleagues in a prosecutorial or public defender’s office.
When these private attorneys have a deep philosophical fealty to the Constitution and the mandated limits of government, as well as a fundamental respect for individual liberty, the end result is an exceptional judge… not just an exceptional judge….but a predictive judge. By looking at the limitations of government through the lens of the Constitution, plaintiffs, prosecutors, and defendants can make reasonable predictions of how a judge will rule.
This brings us to an announced candidate.
Her name is Diana James.
She is an attorney in San Pedro, and both she and her husband are Artemis clients. In fact, that is how I first met her a few years back. Diana and I have become good friends and we have assisted each other on a couple of cases, both technically, as well as by offering each other advice.
I have often jokingly referred to myself as Don Quixote, donning my armor and fighting the windmills of injustice.
She is, without any equivocation, the female version of that archetype.
Her aversion to injustice is as passionate as her dedication to due process. Diana is a lawyer’s lawyer who has a deep compelling desire to steer the judiciary and all branches of government towards the original animating Constitutional principles articulated by the Framers.
She is, as you can imagine, a strong defender of individual liberty.
She also has quite the uphill battle in her pursuit of her judgeship.
In Los Angeles, Seat 137 is up for grabs as a result of retirement. Several contenders have filed papers to fill the seat.
All… including Diana… will get endorsements.
Hell… The Artemis Defense Institute and “Steven Lieberman” have endorsed her.
But… and let’s be very honest here… endorsements don’t create votes. They potentially can kill votes (I hope I haven’t done that with my endorsement!), but few people really vote for judges based on endorsements.
They vote for judges because they seek guidance from others, they vote randomly, (they vote like I do… against anyone who is or has been a government lawyer), or they don’t bother voting at all.
Sadly, I cannot vote for Diana because I am not a LA County resident.
What I can do, though, is give her my full-throated 100% endorsement and coerce, cajole, and encourage all of my readers and friends to not only vote for Ms. Diana James, but to encourage all of their friends and neighbors to do so as well.
If you would like more information about her, you can go to her firm’s website at www.dianajameslaw.com. Her candidacy is brand new; formal websites and such have not yet been set up… but she can also be found on Instagram @dianajamesforjudge.