Patterico's Pontifications

6/9/2006

Shocker: Less Qualified Candidate Wins!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:03 am



The L.A. Times ran a story yesterday complaining that a qualified judge was unseated by a candidate whom the editors obviously feel is less qualified:

The rare defeat of a highly regarded sitting judge ousted from the bench Tuesday by a bagel store owner who’d barely practiced law in the last decade sent a jolt through Los Angeles County legal circles, leading some to question whether the system to select judges needs overhauling.

Now, it may be true that the bagel-lady candidate was less qualified than the sitting judge who lost. And if that’s true, then on a small scale, that seems like a shame.

But in a larger sense, my reaction is: Boo-hoo.

Less qualified people beat more qualified people in elections all the time. I know more than one judge who ran against someone more qualified, but won because he or she had more money. In California’s recall election, Tom McClintock lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if you think George W. Bush is the most qualified guy in the country to be the President, hand me some of what you’re smoking, because it must be awesome stuff.

Why did the paper pick this judge to write a sob story about?

And does all this really mean that we need to question whether the system to select politicians needs overhauling??

Sure, I’d prefer that better qualified people win elections. But when they don’t, the answer for them is: join the crowd.

And stop whining.

UPDATE: On reflection, it’s probably a bit harsh to say “stop whining.” My point is this: the less qualified candidate wins all the time. It’s not a good thing — but it’s a natural result of elections, because many voters just aren’t that informed.

27 Responses to “Shocker: Less Qualified Candidate Wins!”

  1. Patrick.
    I certainly agree with your comment on GW Bush,but in my defense of my vote for him,I want to quote Sam Rayburn,during his first run for COngeress;”I will not deny there are morfe qualified people than I.But these gentlemaen are not in the race.”

    corwin (dfaf29)

  2. She was edorsed by the entire liberal elite and media, one possibility that she lost. A second is that nobody anywhere knows what her philosophy is. The usual suspects are blaming racism by white Republicans who voted against her name. It’s the Repubicans stupid. The woman who was elected does own a bagel shop but was a lawyer for a long time.

    Howard Veit (28df94)

  3. “And if you think George W. Bush is the most qualified guy in the country to be the President …”

    Fair enough, but had you reached 35 years of age on December 13, 2004? 😉

    nk (50d578)

  4. The judge in question is a rare instance within the snakepit that is the LA Superior Court of a hard working, very smart, honest, no-bullshit, down the middle judge. She was about to be nominated by Bush for the Ninth Circuit but withdrew her name when she saw the maze that lay before her.She is hated by the plaintiff\’s bar because she insists on actual evidence, and can\’t be fooled by sloppy arguments.
    The LA Times won\’t tell you that she lost the election because their party, the Democrats, endorsed her opponent, knowing full well that the bagel lady was way out of her depth.
    We all ought to care a great deal that way too many stupid and dishonest people are in the business of running the California legislature and the courts. A world run by its Mike Nifongs is a very bad place, and even the Dog Trainer can figure that one out. Your post gives the impression that you are more comfortable with the outcome than I suspect you really are.

    [You\’re right, and I have updated the post. — P]

    lincoln republican (6ec212)

  5. The bagel-store owner is indeed more qualified, because the arbiter of qualifications is the voter. Not the ABA, not the local judges’ association, not the Times.

    The LAT thinks its candidate’s loss means the system for electing judges needs “overhauling.” Talk about liberal hubris.

    d-man (66b9c0)

  6. Actually, the media is just blaming general voter prejudice- the stories I’ve read about this all indicate that the bagel shop owner specifically targetted and campaigned against the judge because the judge was a Republican.

    It annoys me though to see every “hey, let’s have a merit selection board… (in our control!)” weasel from the state bar latch onto this to push, once again, for the elimination of judicial elections.

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  7. The problem isn’t that the winner was simply “less qualified” … she wasn’t qualified AT ALL. She hadn’t practised law in over 10 years; she reactivated he bar status only in December to run for the position. And she only practised law for 4 years total.

    What the Times mentions, but the newly elected judge will not admit, is that this Judge was targeted simply because she has an unusual name. Her campaign consultant is notorious for encouraging his clients to do various things in the name of victory … change parties, change your name from Dave to “pat”. And even suggested a few years ago, to a former candidate friend of mine, that she/he run against this sitting judge because of her name.

    It’s crap like this that gives the judicial system a bad name.

    I’m surprised at you Patterico, you’ve been before some of the worst of the worst in CCB — because that’s the only place for the system to try to hide them — and you know they only are sitting there because of their money. Money should not be the sum total of the qualifications for our judiciary. If it is I’m screwed.

    MOG (59bfb8)

  8. she would have won the election if only she had adopted a nickname upon arrival from latvia and appeared on the ballot as something like dzintra “cookie” janavs.
    judges are tribunes of the people and are best elected by the people. merit selection boards are not a good idea, particularly if the state bar is involved. i can’t think of a more thoroughly left-wing, self-congratulatory entity in california government.

    assistant devil's advocate (7adc55)

  9. The State Bar is still really bad, but it isn’t as bad as it was before it was forced to spin off the State Bar Foundation, assistant devil’s advocate.

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  10. Patterico, I’m not sure what the point of this entry is. Not only is it not “whining” for the press to document cases like this; it’s doing exactly what the press is supposed to do. It’s too bad the press didn’t run the same story before the election, when voters might have benefitted from the knowledge of the fact that one candidate was an exceptionally qualified veteran judge, and the other was barely qualified to practice law at all.

    I also see from the the back slashes in your edited comments that you have “up” graded to the current version of WordPress, but have not installed WordPress 2.0.3 Tuneup, which I highly recommend.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  11. test

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  12. This story needs a closing str tag and a closing em tag. 🙂

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  13. If we are going to talk about lack of qualifications, the discussion should start with affirmative action, not the election of Judges.

    TWWREN (173f32)

  14. I don’t know anything about the two candidates but given the tone and the newspaper I’d be willing to bet the loser was a leftist, probably supported by the Times and all of its’ left-wing friends.

    Doug Book (2fab13)

  15. You’d be wrong; the leftist was the person running against the judge.

    However, this is all part of a longstanding campaign by the State Bar of California and its allies to abolish electoral checks on the judiciary and institute a “merit” selection board, run by (who else?) they themselves.

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  16. This is pretty shocking. If any judge in LA Superior Court was going to be tossed, I would have guessed it would have been “41”, if you know who I mean.

    Anonymous (256007)

  17. I’d prefer a system where a sitting judge has to stand for election every 6 or 10 years or so, but we just give an up or down vote, with no opponent. This would make the judges accountable in that they couldn’t outrage the public by making sh*t up or letting child-rapists go with probation, but we would generally not have anything resembling a campaign, with partisan and personal issues often paramount. Partisan elections demean the Judiciary, which should be above politics, even if (somewhat) accountable to the people. An up-or-down system would certainly be an improvement in Massachusetts, where I live, but I would not want to see the parties choosing slates of candidates, and thereby bending sitting judges to party rule.

    David Pittelli (376b98)

  18. Yes, and Carl McGill lost to Maxine Waters…What can we do except take it like the grown-ups we are and hope for a better outcome next time.

    Ziva (b07852)

  19. David, #17: That’s the Illinois system. A judge is elected in a contested election the first time but then has to face a retention vote after 6 years. He needs 60% “yes” to retain his seat. If he has been appointed to fill a sudden vacancy, such as a judge having failed to get 60% (BTW the appointment is by the state’s Supreme Court), he stands for retention in the next general election which will be in less than two years but then, if retained, he’s good for another six years.

    nk (5a2f98)

  20. My response to those paralyzed with angst over Ms. Lynn Diane Olson ousting Judge Dzintra Janavs is grow up, or get a life, or get over it. I accept that Judge Janavs is a decent jurist and, in fact, is probably a cut above the usual occupier of the high seat. In my few appearances before her she struck me as intelligent, fair and perhaps even hardworking. My knowledge of her reputation is also consistent with that reported in the press. But while all those good things said about Judge Janavs may be true, that doesn’t mean Ms. Olson is unfit. That Ms. Olson is “only” a co-owner of a bagel shop and hasn’t practiced law in the last ten years does not mean she could not reasonably be expected to honorably wear the black robes (assuming, as Rumpole might add, that those robes could be worn honorably).

    I know nothing about Ms. Olson; I only know what I’ve read in the papers. However, I think her reported background makes her more qualified than most judicial candidates. Running a successful business, i.e., one that turns a profit without relying on government handouts, requires intelligent attention to detail while offering customers the desired product at a fair price. The small business person usually has to put in long hours while undertaking considerable risks that most people avoid. Moreover, whether a hotdog vendor or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the successful business person will tell you that it doesn’t pay to bear grudges or to let personal dislikes to get in the way – that obnoxious customer may be a repeat buyer. These admirable traits – intelligence, courage, hardworking, and fairness – are, I submit, appropriately suited (though in short supply) for robed benchwarmers. Most judges enjoy their high-backed seats as a result of (sorry I have to say this Patterico) a career in government work – you know, the kind of job where its rare that someone gets fired for incompetence, the hours are short, and the intelligence standard low. While there are many who become decent judges despite the handicap of needing only to satisfy government job standards, they become so not because of but in spite their previous employment.

    Being a good judge is not hard. It requires average intelligence, a healthy dose of fairness, plus an occasional willingness to work. And I suppose if the person has a law degree, maybe that helps a bit (though not much). I’ve heard nothing suggesting that Ms. Olson is unfair, while her background tells me she’s intelligent and hardworking. That makes her at least as qualified (if not more so) than most ex-prosecutors or other career government lawyers. Certainly more qualified than the political toadies who secure judicial appointments by knowing which politician’s read end to favor.

    DWC (06ea11)

  21. but it’s a natural result of elections, because many voters just aren’t that informed.

    Or because a lot of voters have an anti-incumbency streak.

    Darleen (81f712)

  22. It seems to me that the problem is that most judicial candidates can’t afford much campaigning, the judicial elections aren’t covered much in the media (until after the elecition is over) and thus (surprise!) most voters know nothing about the candidates they are being asked to select.

    Voters who want to find out about the judicial candidates in advance, have to take the initiative surf the web. A lot of the candidates had their own web sites. Even better was the coverage of each race by the Metropolitan News. They covered the bagel shop v experienced judge issue before the election rather than after the fact, as the Times did.

    Patrick Moran (4cdf3a)

  23. P.S.: The Metropolitan News link is http://www.metnews.com

    It appears that Governor Schwarzenegger is going to reappoint Judge Janavs.

    Patrick Moran (4cdf3a)

  24. I don’t know how it works in California, but here in Minnesota the campaigning by Judges is highly restricted, no mention of political affiliations for example, and thus the voters have no real idea as to who the candidate is or what they believe. Not that it matters much as most Judges wait to retire after a general election and the replacement is appointed by the Governor. That’s why ballots in Minnesota usually show only one candidate for any judicial position and that candidate almost always has “Incumbent” following the name.

    Ray (be81f9)

  25. The voters decide who is more qualified to serve in elective office.

    The mistake you are making is in assuming your ideas are the most important ones in deciding. Apparently its more complex than that.

    lonrtown (7a5098)

  26. […] I reported on this election the other day, in a post that people didn’t seem to understand for some reason. My point was, I thought, pretty simple — but I said it poorly. (Hey, it happens.) […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Judge Unseated by Bagel-Lady to Get Judicial Appointment (421107)

  27. […] Among the bad aspects: the fact that many voters are terribly ill-informed — but still plenty willing to lodge a vote based on the tiny, tiny bit of information they have managed to gather. This is evidenced by the recent unseating of an experienced judge by a bagel lady, as we have discussed on this blog previously (here and here). Witness: Frank Daly said a concurrence of slates endorsing Lynn Diane Olson for a Superior Court judgeship in Los Angeles County persuaded him to vote for her. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Elections: Ignorant Voters, Unfair Results — and Accountability (421107)


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