Los Angeles City Hall politics revealed from an insider's point of view.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deputy City Attorney Uses Misleading Ballot Designation in Judicial Race

Is Thomas Griego really a "Criminal Prosecutor?"
One man who must be banking on how little voters actually know about them when voters pick judges must be Deputy City Attorney Thomas 'Tom" Griego, who is probably relying on the fact that most voters in the November mid-term election have never heard of him, visited his website, or know the first thing about him.

What Griego is likely gambling on is that voters will just look at his ballot designation, "Criminal Prosecutor," and decide that a person who fights crime and puts bad guys in jail, must be a good choice for Judge.

But in the case of Thomas "Tom" Griego, there's good reason to question whether Griego has ever really "put a bad guy in jail," and it certainly appears that he hasn't done anything like that recently. Sources at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office say that Griego has spent most of his lackluster career hidden away on the civil side and only recently requested a transfer out of his obscure civil duties to the criminal side. 
Griego is believed to have requested the transfer because it would help him in his bid to become a judge, a role that many do not feel his is qualified for.

The leading Los Angeles legal newspaper, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, had this to say about Griego's misleading ballot designation:

"TOM GRIEGO is also running for the county’s Superior Court with a vote-attracting ballot designation of “Criminal Prosecutor.” In his case, it’s misleading.
I asked Griego: “Have you prosecuted anyone in the last year?”
His answer: “No, I have not.”
To me, that’s a confession as to the invalidity of the designation. If he has not prosecuted criminals (or alleged criminals), he has not been a criminal prosecutor.
Garcia admits that as of March 8, he in no way even assisted in any prosecution, but had been reading manuals and the like.
His job title is “deputy city attorney.” During the one-year period preceding the filing of his papers—except for some time in recent days in the role of a trainee—he handled civil matters.
The ballot designation he has chosen—which so far has not drawn a challenge—is a falsehood."

Those are strong words indeed from Roger M. Grace at the Met News, and many might well believe that a person like Griego who seeks to mislead voters so blatantly, has no place sitting in judgment of others. Certainly, the Los Angeles County Bar Association wasted no time in declaring Griego "Not Qualified" to be a judge, but in the Primary Election Griego fooled 223,411 voters into putting him into a runoff against a real "Criminal Prosecutor," Alan Schneider.

Schneider, unlike Griego, really does the job of "putting bad guys in jail," and instead of running around campaigning, is actually engaged in a murder trial. According to Schneider's website, he has "tried over 100 jury trials, including 40 homicides, with a 94 percent conviction rate. For the last 7 years, I have specialized in prosecuting complex murder cases against gang member defendants who pose the greatest threat to the public’s safety and the quality of life in our communities."

Schneider has valuable endorsements from all sides of law enforcement, including over 100 Superior Court Judges, as well as Michael P. Judge, Los Angeles County Public Defender and Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County District Attorney.

In a marked contrast, Griego has an endorsement from Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. It's an endorsement that many find troubling, especially in the light of Griego's "Unqualified" rating, and the controversy over his misleading ballot designation.

It is rare for the City Hall Insider to disagree with Trutanich, but this time we have to say that even if there were internal pressures, it would have been better for Trutanich to only endorse candidates for judicial office who are rated "qualified" or above.

 On November 2, 2010 City Hall Insider urges you to vote for Alan Schneider for Judge.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Venice RV Poop Dumpers Get Slap on Wrist

LA Superior Court Commissioner Mark Zuckman is not related to Groucho Marx
KFI 640AM's Steve Gregory reports that the Venice RV dwelling doodoo dumping duo, who were arrested in August for dumping their feces, urine and shower waste on the streets of Venice, and who were arrested again this past weekend for doing the same thing, have done a sweetheart deal with a Court Commissioner  for a time-served sentence; 2 days in jail and 36 months of probation is all they will serve for their crimes.

According to Steve Gregory, defendant Lindsey Estilette and her companion reportedly appeared in front of LA Superior Court Commissioner Mark Zuckman Wednesday, October 13, 2010, and Zuckerman wasted no time in showing how little he apparently cares about the serious problem of RV operators in Venice who dump toxic waste on the streets, instead of going to a disposal site.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had insisted that the doodoo dumpers serve 90 days in jail if they plead guilty, although they faced a potential maximum of three years in jail if convicted after trial.

However, Commissioner Zuckman undercut Trutanich and basically said if they plead no contest to all the charges, he would let them off for the two days that 28 year-old Estilette had already spent in jail, and give them 36 months of probation to pay restitution for the cost of cleaning up their toxic waste. The doodoo dumping duo have also been ordered to stay away from Venice.

Mark Zuckman was appointed as Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner in 2002. He is a former Deputy Public Defender who, some say, bears a passing resemblance to comedian Groucho Marx.

Venice Beach residents concerned about the problems that RV dwellers have caused in their community are unlikely to be pleased with Zuckman's assessment of the seriousness of the problem as it was hoped by many that this case would set an example to others, and deter this disgusting practice.