Election 2020: How To Vote For Judges In The March 3 Primary

A view through the door window of a courtroom at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles March 16, 2009. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

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Figuring out how to vote for a judge is often one of the most baffling tasks in any election year because there's just so little information about them. And this year, there are a whopping 12 judicial seats in the L.A. County Superior Court up for our vote in the March 3 primary election.

These judicial positions are important.

Elected judges handle trials that run to gamut from family law, to felony murder, to small claims, to civil cases. And, of course, you or someone you know might end up having to face one of these judges someday in court.

So how do you judge a judge and figure out how to vote? Judge Stuart Rice, who serves on the L.A. Superior Court and is a past president of the California Judges Association, gave us some tips:

    1. Look at the L.A. County Bar Association's ratings. LACBA evaluates all candidates based on interviews, references, and insider information within the law community. Candidates are then rated as Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Qualified. (There's also a rating for Exceptionally Well Qualified, but nobody seems to have earned that distinction this year.) Here are all the ratings for the 2020 election.
    2. Check out candidates' work experience. Consider who might be prepared for the role, and who might be able to learn quickly.
    3. Look at endorsements. These are nonpartisan seats, but an endorsement from a political party or group you align with might tip the scales for you. Keep in mind that the Republican Party of Los Angeles County declined to endorse any judges this year, saying that there is no solid way of vetting candidates. The L.A. County Democratic Party has made endorsements, however.
    4. Check out a candidate's website. It can tell you a little more about the candidate's background and mission and how seriously they approach their campaign.

With all this in mind, below is our judges guide. It includes all 26 candidates vying for the 12 seats (only nine of them are contested). Each profile has the candidate's job, campaign website, the first two organizational endorsements they list (where applicable), a link to their full endorsements, and the L.A. County Bar Association ratings (read about LACBA's methodology).

And, if at this point you're wondering why we elect judges at all instead of appointing them, here's a good primer on the subject.

OFFICE 17

Shannon Cooley, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: cooleyforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial endorsements (see full list)
LACBA Rating: n/a (LACBA only rated candidates for the nine contested seats)

OFFICE 42

Linda Sun, California deputy attorney general
Website: lindasunforjudge.com
Endorsements: L.A. County Democratic Party, L.A. County Federation of Labor (see full list)
LACBA Rating: Qualified

Robert "Bob" Villa, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: robertvillaforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial and legal endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified

OFFICE 72

Myanna Dellinger, law professor/attorney
Website: dellingerforjudge.com
Endorsements: National Women's Political Caucus, East Area Progressive Democrats (see full list)
LACBA rating: Not Qualified

Robert Jacobs, attorney at law
Website: robertjacobsforjudge.com
Endorsements: Stonewall Democratic Club, Mexican American Bar Association PAC (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Steve Morgan, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: morgan4judge.com
Endorsements: L.A. County Democratic Party, L.A. County Federation of Labor (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified

OFFICE 76

Emily Cole, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: emilycoleforjudge2020.com
Endorsements: L.A. County Democratic Party, L.A. County Federation of Labor (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Judge Mike Cummins, retired counselor-at-law (Note: Cummins' first name is "Judge." He is not a sitting judge)
No campaign website found
Endorsements: none found
LACBA rating: Not Qualified

OFFICE 80

David Berger, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: bergerforjudge.blogspot.com
Endorsements: Los Angeles Police Protective League, Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Klint James McKay, administrative law judge, California Department of Social Services
Website: klintmckayforjudge.com
Endorsements: SEIU Local 721, L.A. Progressive Majority Voter Guide (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified

Nick Rini, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: riniforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

OFFICE 97

Sherry Powell, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: powellforjudge.com
Endorsements: Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Timothy Reuben, attorney/business owner
Website: reubenforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial, political endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified

OFFICE 129

Kenneth Fuller, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: fullerforjudge.com
Endorsements: Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Mark MacCarley, lawyer
Website: maccarleyforlacountyjudge.com
Endorsements: none found
LACBA rating: Qualified

Bruce Moss, attorney at law
Website: mossforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

OFFICE 131

Michelle Kelley, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: michellekelleyforjudge.com
Endorsements: none found
LACBA rating: n/a (LACBA only rated candidates for the nine contested seats)

OFFICE 141

Lana Kim, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: lanakimforjudge.com
Endorsements: Political, judicial endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: n/a (LACBA only rated candidates for the nine contested seats)

OFFICE 145

Adan Montalban, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: montalbanforjudge.com
Endorsements: L.A. County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, L.A. Police Protective League (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Troy Slaten, attorney/legal commentator
Website: troyslatenforjudge.com
Endorsements: Judicial, law enforcement endorsements (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

OFFICE 150

Manuel Almada, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: manuelalmadaforjudge2020.com
Endorsements: Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

Sherri Onica Valle Cole, attorney at law
Website: vallecoleforjudge.com
Endorsements: none found
LACBA rating: Not Qualified

Tom Parsekian, attorney/mediator
Website: parsekianforjudge.com
Endorsements: L.A. County Democratic Party, Long Beach Democratic Club (see full list)
LACBA rating: Qualified

OFFICE 162

David Diamond, attorney/adjunct professor
Website: Diamondforjudge.com
Endorsements: L.A. Police Protective League, AFSCME District Council 36 (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified

Caree Annette Harper, attorney/radio producer
Website: harper4judge.com
Endorsements: East Area Progressive Democrats, Long Beach Democratic Club (see full list)
LACBA rating: Not Qualified

Scott Andrew Yang, L.A. County deputy district attorney
Website: http://scottyangforjudge2020.com/
Endorsements: L.A. County Democratic Party, L.A. County Federation of Labor (see full list)
LACBA rating: Well Qualified


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