I came to Ventura County in February of 1971. I was 27 years in private practice before being appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. Pete Wilson in June of 1998. My law practice was directed towards civil litigation. I probably had 50 jury trials to my credit and approximately the same number of court trials when I received my appointment. I had also served as an arbitrator and discovery referee. All of this gave me a good grounding on how a courtroom operates, and how a judge should conduct him/herself.
My first judicial assignment was civil litigation, and with the exception of a two-year assignment in family law, I have been there ever since. What I offer as a judge is wide experience in all facets of civil litigation. I have had negligence cases of all variety (motor vehicle, malpractice, premises liability, and product liability). I have also had cases involving business, commercial, real estate, condemnation and inverse condemnation, and just about everything else in the civil department. These cases have ranged from the mundane to the very complicated. I have also heard a wide variety of writ applications seeking review of decisions of administrative bodies such as city councils, retirement boards, and other public agencies. I have had election disputes presented to me as well as election issues involving ballot propositions and ballot language. Through all of this, my affirmance rate at the Court of Appeal has remained high.
My family law assignment involved the usual issues of the division of property, support and custody of children. These can be very difficult decisions to make, and I made them as I thought was appropriate. My experience has also included periodic preliminary hearings and criminal trials when that has been necessary.
I have always made an effort to treat attorneys, witnesses and jurors with courtesy and respect, and will continue to do so.
In evaluating the candidates in this election, the voter focus should be on experience, and experience in the courtroom. There is no formal apprentice program for a judge once he or she gets to the court. The apprentice program is what you have done before you get to the court. I had broad trial experience before I got the court, and have had 14 years to improve my skills and become an experienced judicial officer. In evaluating the candidates in this election, a voter should be asking “Who do I want to be my judge? Someone who has been doing it for 14 years, or someone who has no demonstrated experience in the courtroom?”
Any suggestion that the Ventura Court is lagging behind in technology, or that cases are subject to unwarranted delays is just plain wrong. We are set to go with e-filing, but the current state government budget problems have required that those plans be put on hold. The court is in full compliance with Fast Track rules, and the primary reason that cases are continued is that the attorneys have requested those continuances to complete their discovery, and get their cases ready for trial.
Off the bench, I have served as chair of the jury/grand jury committee. I have been a volunteer judge in the Mock Trial program for the last 16 years. Being a judicial officer has been the absolute best job I have ever had. With the help of the voters in the County, I look forward to continue doing just that.
Running in a contested election is stressful and expensive. I am deeply appreciative of, and humbled by, the endorsements I have received from all of the judges and justices in Ventura County, many retired bench officers, our district attorney, our sheriff, 35 former Ventura County Bar Association Presidents, 26 former Ventura County Trial Lawyer Association Presidents and more than 360 lawyers, along with many public officials and private citizens.