Sending Judges out to Pasture
• • • • • • • • • • Decvember 20, 2023 • • • • • • • • • •
The unreliability of American and San Francisco media today is not new to our country. Neither is the people’s right to discard biased, unsound judges.”
Thomas Jefferson once declared: “As, for the safety of society, we commit honest maniacs to Bedlam, so judges should be withdrawn from their bench, whose erroneous biases are leading us to dissolution. It may indeed injure them in fame or in fortune; but it saves the republic, which is the first and supreme law.” So, too, may we commit two San Francisco Superior Court judges to a pasture with other lawyers on March 5, 2024, the primary election.
One candidate for such non-judicial pasture is Patrick Thompson at the Hall of Justice. He could be described as a “revolving door” who released defendant drug dealers without bail despite a history of repeated drug-dealing convictions.
Deputy District Attorney Jean Myungjin Roland, a veteran prosecutor for over 22 years, is running against Thompson. Ms. Roland was born in South Korea and emigrated to the United States at the age of one, brought by her parents, who spoke no English but learned English at night, leaving Ms. Roland and her sibling with willing neighbors. With persistent hard work, her parents bought a home in the Sunset and owned small retail stores in the Richmond, Japantown and Union Square. Jean Roland attended West Portal Lutheran School, Lowell High School, UC Berkeley and Boston University Law School. On weekends, after school and during summers, she worked in those small luggage and gift stores.
Ms. Roland and her husband are raising two children who now attend St. Ignatius High School and St. Cecilia School, respectively. She is now managing attorney of the General Felony Trial Unit and is, manifestly, extremely well qualified for the Superior Court. I'm proud to endorse and recommend her to voters.
Challenging another “revolving door” judge is Chip Zecher, another experienced trial attorney from the Sunset District, who was appointed in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newson to the governing board of the University of California Law San Francisco (formerly Hasting College of Law). He is now vice chairman of such board. He began his legal career as a research attorney at the San Francisco Superior Court, then opened his own law office as a trial attorney with cases in the nine Bay Area Counties. Mr. Zecher was also chosen by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve in 2003 on his mayoral transition committee.
Zecher will run against Michael Megert on March 5, 2024, another jurist averse to decisions protecting public safety. He currently is at the Community Justice Center, 575 Polk St., a non-trial appendage of our Superior Court and hardly a fulcrum of contested criminal law litigations.
Chip Zecher is clearly the citizenry choice for Superior Court.
But wait: The fearless Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and two of his “progressive” colleagues, Walton and Chan, immediately introduced last month, after Roland and Zecher filed their candidacy forms, a resolution decrying the nerve of the aforementioned excellent trial lawyers in running against the “revolving door” incumbents. The five-page resolution condemns those who demonstrate the “chutzpah” of running for judge, as if such legal miscreants lack qualification, independence and impartiality. In their view, it's un-American to challenge such judges at a legally required election!
I remind stupidvisors Peskin, Walton and Chan that California law authorizes qualified attorneys to contest any judge's election. Perhaps the most stimulating instance of that occurred in 1985 when then-Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin were denied election to another California Supreme Court term by California voters outraged at their failure to uphold trial court sentences in criminal cases, including the death penalty for murderers. (About 67% of the voters threw them out of office!) Will history repeat itself on a smaller scale? I obviously hope so and hope you do, too.
The aforementioned Peskin, Walton, Chan resolution was referred to the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, composed of supervisors Peskin, Chan and Catherine Stefani. At press time, no date, time or room of that committee hearing on the resolution had been published, so stay tuned on those free-speech mavens.
Meanwhile, Chanukah begins at sundown December 7, and ends seven nights later while Christmas occurs on Monday, December 25. I plan to spend New Year's Day at the Rose Parade, then the Rose Bowl. I convey warm best wishes for a happy Chanukah, merry Christmas and happy, healthy New Year to all of you faithful readers.
A teacher said to a student: “It’s clear you haven't studied your geography. Why not?”; “Well,” the student replied, “my dad says the world is changing every day, so I decided to wait until it settles down.” Be of good cheer in the new year!
Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, SF Ethics Commission member, president of the California High Speed Rail Authority governing board and retired Superior Court judge.
December 20, 2023