A veteran Santa Monica Superior Court judge is facing a countywide election challenge from a Westside attorney whose license was suspended earlier this year for professional misconduct.
In another judicial race, seven candidates are seeking the office of retiring Culver City Municipal Judge Harold I. Cherness.
The countywide contest pits Superior Court Judge Irving Shimer, rated "well-qualified" by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., against attorney Stuart H. Hirsh, who was found to be "unqualified."
Earlier this year, a State Bar Court judge wrote that Hirsh suffered from a "borderline personality" disorder and had "poor impulse control."
Hirsh, 62, was suspended for, among other things, keeping more legal fees than he was entitled to, according to a written opinion by the State Bar judge.
Hirsh dismissed the misconduct charges as "so ridiculous they're funny." He has filed a federal lawsuit against the Bar and the California Supreme Court challenging their jurisdiction over attorney discipline. A federal trial judge dismissed the case, but it is on appeal, Hirsh said.
The suspension has yet to be affirmed by the California Supreme Court. Until then, Hirsh is considered a lawyer in good standing, allowing him to challenge Shimer in the June 7 primary.
Though Hirsh said he has not tangled with Shimer in court, he said he chose to run against him because he "had never heard anything good about the man."
Shimer responded, "I expect lawyers to be prepared and to behave professionally. When I encounter professional dishonesty or chicanery, I become very angry."
Shimer, 62, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. He estimated that the reelection fight could cost $100,000. Superior Court judges earn a base salary of $104,262 a year and can be challenged every six years.
In Culver City, candidates for the Municipal Court include Alan J. Goodman, 48, a business attorney who was a deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice, and City Council member Steven Gourley, 45, an attorney who has served as a judge pro tem in Culver City and West Los Angeles since 1978.
Another candidate, attorney and former City Council member Paul A. Jacobs, 52, has also volunteered as a temporary judge in Culver City and Los Angeles.
Goodman, Gourley and Jacobs all received "well-qualified" ratings from the Bar.
Attorney Christine L. Harwell, 45, a volunteer judge for the Los Angeles Municipal Court in small claims and traffic court, received a "qualified" rating. Victor A. Marin, 46, a Culver City attorney, was rated "not qualified" by the association, which said "he lacks the professional ability required for this judicial office."
"The general public doesn't care about these ratings," Marin said.
The other two candidates, Martin J. Murphy, 48, and J. Richard Pearce, 55, were found to be "qualified" by the county bar. Murphy has been an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission since 1990, and Pearce is a deputy district attorney.
A municipal court judge earns $95,214 a year and serves a four-year term.
The Culver City judicial district includes Marina del Rey, Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills, Fox Hills and Culver City.