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'Sneak Attack' on Justices

November 02, 1986

We were gratified to see The Times editorial (Oct. 29), "Sneak Attack," condemning a mailer distributed by the Lincoln Political Action Committee urging a no vote against five justices of the local Court of Appeal. As you point out, that mailer, labeled "Nonpartisan Candidate Evaluation Counsel," is neither "nonpartisan" nor a true "evaluation" of the performance of these jurists.

We are concerned about this unfortunate attack on the local Court of Appeal, not only for the reasons you recited, but also because we know these five justices to be among the very best on the appellate bench anywhere in the state. They all received high marks from the Judicial Evaluation and Nomination Committee and one was rated "exceptionally well-qualified." Their decisions on the Court of Appeal have been praised by professors and other leading legal authorities from California and elsewhere. As lawyers, we have read many of their opinions and find them of the highest caliber.

Through our work in the organized Bar, we are especially aware of the fine reputation each of these justices enjoys within the profession. All five are known to be hard-working, intelligent, knowledgeable about the law, and fair to all sides--prosecution and defense in criminal cases, plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases. They do not prejudge parties or issues and can be counted on to give a full hearing to every litigant who files an appeal in their court. It is difficult to give higher praise to any judge.

We are further concerned the Lincoln Club attack will somehow draw these justices into the current debate over the death penalty. Under the California Constitution, all death penalty cases go directly to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal never becomes involved. Whatever a voter may feel about other judicial elections should not influence his or her vote on these or any other Court of Appeal justices.

Some of us are Republicans, others Democrats. But we join in rejecting this assault on the local appellate court. We strongly endorse the retention of the Court of Appeal justices on the ballot this November.

ROY H. AARON

JOHN J. BRINSLEY

LEONARD JANOFSKY

JOSEPH D. MANDEL

PATRICA PHILLIPS

JOHN J. QUINN

CHARLES S. VOGEL

FRANCIS M. WHEAT

SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS

Los Angeles

The writers are all former presidents of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.

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