A third candidate has entered the race for the Yolo Superior Court seat being vacated next year.
Larenda Delaini, 37, is a deputy attorney general and Davis resident who is touting her legal experience as well as her longtime Yolo County ties.
“I am running because Yolo County residents deserve a highly qualified judge who is vested in our community, and possesses the good judgment and even temperament required to bring fairness and impartiality to the administration of law,” Delaini said in a news release Tuesday announcing that she had filed paperwork for the June 3 election.
Delaini is seeking to replace Judge Stephen L. Mock, who announced his retirement earlier this month. He plans to leave the bench in January 2015 at what will be the end of his fourth six-year term.
Also in the race so far are longtime Yolo County Commissioner Janene Beronio, 63, and Sacramento family-law attorney Fredrick “Rick” Cohen, 49. It is the county’s first race for an open judicial seat since 1990.
While judicial candidates are not required to live in the county in which they seek election, Delaini believes it’s crucial for judges to have that connection to the jurisdictions where they exercise their power. She noted that Cohen lives in Sacramento, while Beronio’s residence is in Solano County, near Winters.
“I think that it’s important for our community to have a judge that is involved,” said Delaini, who outside of work leads a local Brownie troop and is active in her children’s school. One of her main reasons for seeking a judgeship, she added, “was that call to community service.”
Delaini is a graduate of River City Senior High School in West Sacramento and Sacramento State University, where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice before earning her law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.
Before joining the California Attorney General’s Office in 2008, Delaini worked as a prosecutor for the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, handling misdemeanor and felony cases as well as juvenile matters. She also was a recipient of the office’s Victim Services Award.
“She’s extremely bright. As a prosecutor, she was very tenacious in court,” said Delaini’s former supervisor, Sacramento Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Marv Stern. Like most new prosecutors, Delaini started out prosecuting drug-related cases but soon graduated to more violent crimes such as robberies and assaults.
“I very quickly became dependent on her to handle some of the toughest cases in the unit, because she was so skilled,” Stern said. “I would say she’s one of the two best lawyers that I’ve had come through.”
Delaini’s work as a deputy attorney general currently involves criminal appeals, civil habeas corpus matters and administrative proceedings, and she also has performed extensive trial and appellate work in Superior Court, the Courts of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Eastern District and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The most important thing to me is my integrity, and making sure the right thing is done,” Delaini said. “Sometimes judges are faced with decisions that are not popular, but they have to do what’s right in terms of following the law.”
As an adjunct professor at Sacramento City College, Delaini teaches classes on various legal issues such as evidence, criminal procedure and basic concepts of criminal law, and she also assists first-year law students at Lincoln Law School in their legal-writing skills.
Delaini is married to David Delaini, a West Sacramento police lieutenant who previously served with the Davis Police Department. The couple have two children, a 4-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene