Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Partisanship out of place in this race

By From page A2 | May 28, 2014

I don’t generally pay much attention to races for Yolo Superior Court judge, even though such races are relatively rare.
In fact, until colorful Clint Parish came along in the recent past to sling all sorts of mud at Judge Dan Maguire, I can’t recall caring much one way or the other about judicial elections.
This year’s four-horse race to replace the retiring Steve Mock on the Yolo bench initially didn’t raise my blood pressure either.
Four qualified candidates, some more qualified than others, but no fireworks. Which is as it should be considering what’s at stake for society as a whole.
Still, I’ll admit I was impressed early on when every sitting Yolo Superior Court judge publicly endorsed the candidacy of Janene Beronio, who has spent the past 34 years serving Yolo County, first as a deputy district attorney, and more recently as a Superior Court commissioner.
Given that she doesn’t look a day over 50, she apparently began her career while still in high school.
When you consider the diversity of backgrounds on the Yolo Superior Court, it’s hard to get all those judges to agree on a flavor of ice cream, no less a candidate to join them on the bench.
Even every retired Yolo Superior Court judge — at least those who are still breathing — supports Beronio as well.
Nevertheless, the three other candidates seeking this important seat all appear to be honorable folks with serious credentials, even if none of them can match Beronio’s long and specific experience in the Yolo County court system.
Deputy District Attorney Larenda Delaini has a passionate core of supporters, especially in Davis, while John Brennan claims the endorsement of 11 Superior Court judges, though none from Yolo County.
Candidate Fredrick Cohen, a “family law specialist,” made a point on his official ballot statement to say “When you sit on the other side of the bench, you no longer represent a client or a point of view. A judge should not manipulate the facts or law to suit his personal preferences.”
Certainly a sentiment most of us can agree with, which is why the mailer Cohen sent me the other day was such a shocker.
“Democrats agree, Fredrick Cohen for Judge,” it said. “The only candidate officially endorsed by the Democratic Party.”
On the flip side of the mailer we learn that Fredrick is also endorsed by the Davis Democratic Club, the Woodland Democratic Club, the River City Democratic Club of West Sacramento, the West Yolo Democratic Club, the Latino Democratic Club of Northern California and the Davis College Democrats.
He’s also endorsed by prominent Democrat Darrell Steinberg, the state Senate president pro tem, and Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson.
And then, incredibly, the mailer states “We need someone like Fredrick Cohen, who shares our Democratic values, on the Yolo County Superior Court. Currently, a majority of the judges in Yolo County are Republican. It’s time for a change.”
Talk about inserting raw partisanship into a sacred office where nonpartisanship is essential, Fredrick has just wandered way out of bounds with his over-the-top plea for our votes.
I don’t even know what a “Democratic value” or a “Republican value” is when it comes to donning a black robe, pounding a gavel and doing your level best to administer justice to each and every person who comes before the court.
Do Democratic judges look differently at a DUI defendant than Republican judges do?
Do Miranda warnings mean one thing to Republican judges and quite another to Democratic judges?
With several exceptions due to their partisan activities in their pre-bench lives, I honestly can’t tell you the political leanings of most of our Yolo Superior Court judges. The same for candidates Brennan, Beronio and Delaini.
Which is as it should be.
Someone needs to tell Fredrick Cohen he’s running for Yolo Superior Court judge, not the California Senate.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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