Election Digest: Letter from Judge Rosenberg, Letter for Dan Wolk

Election-Digest1-e1394455184678

Janene-lighter-1Judge Rosenberg Clarifies Recent Letters

Two letters recently appeared in the local press regarding the election for Judge of the Yolo Superior Court. I’d like to briefly “correct the record.”

One letter made the comment that Yolo Superior Court Commissioner Janene Beronio is an “inactive” member of the California State Bar while the other three candidates – all lawyers – are “active” members of the State Bar.   The letter writer implied that this was a bad thing since “inactive” members are not subject to the mandatory continuing legal education requirements of the State Bar. But this is hardly a revelation. The fact is that Judges and Commissioners in California are “inactive” members of the State Bar. When a person becomes a Judge or Commissioner, that person is (obviously) prohibited from practicing law.   And all Judges and Commissioners are subject to rather stringent continuing judicial education requirements.

The second letter took issue with the fact that all the active Judges of Yolo County had their photo taken in their robes for a campaign brochure in support of Commissioner Beronio. The writer found this “reprehensible”. The fact is that they ALL had their photo taken, because they ALL support Beronio, as do all the retired Judges in Yolo County.   While Federal Judges do not have to run for election, California State Judges do have to stand for election. Judges do not participate in political election campaigns. They must remain neutral in such political contests. There is a exception in the law, however, which permits Judges to fully and actively participate in judicial election campaigns.   It would be terribly unfair if they were required to run in elections to judicial office, but were prohibited from campaigning. In fact, Judges have an ethical obligation to speak about the judicial system and to comment on the administration of justice. Further, numerous ethics opinions have determined that Judges may be pictured in their robes during campaigns, in part because the law requires them to wear those robes.

Dave Rosenberg
Superior Court Judge

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Wolk-Assembly-AnnounceDear Editor:

I wanted to write to you regarding my unwavering support for Dan Wolk’s bid for the State Assembly. Dan Wolk is an enthusiastic, driven candidate–exemplified by his good and thoughtful beliefs and hard work.

As a Davis Councilmember and Solano County Attorney, Dan Wolk led efforts to make our long-term water supply more reliable and pushed for greater investments in roads and renewable energy. In the Assembly, he’ll reinvest in our crumbling roads, bridges and levees. Additionally, Dan Wolk has worked to foster economic development as Davis City Councilman, and in the Assembly, he will do the same by investing in job training, clean energy projects, and small business incubators to build our economy and create jobs.

Dan is experienced and ready to lead in our region. He is the right choice to represent our district in the state of California at large.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Elise

Elise N. Weinberg​, J.D.​
UC Davis School of Law

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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10 thoughts on “Election Digest: Letter from Judge Rosenberg, Letter for Dan Wolk”

  1. SODA

    Why is the support letter for Dan Wolk printed here? I can see Dave Rosenberg’s as a clarification
    tho think it would have been more appropriate published as a reply to the blog comment(s) it addressed, but see no reason why the other has election digest billing!

  2. Tia Will

    “Judges have an ethical obligation to speak about the judicial system and to comment on the administration of justice.”

    It is interesting to me to hear this comment from a judge. At the judicial candidates forum, one question was
    (paraphrased) “What one thing would you change to improve the judicial system in Yolo County”?

    Not one of the candidates had a single suggestion to make for improvement. All sang the praises of the current system. Now this may be somewhat explicable for the attorneys who are currently candidates as they are disadvantaged by not having been on the inside of the workings of the system in the same way that judges are.
    I find it absolutely incredible that after 25 years in the system as she makes as a major point for her election that
    Commissioner Beronio could not name even one improvement she would like to see.

    I also think it is quite telling that when presented with this question directly in person, she responded that she thought this inability to articulate a desired change was due to their training which was never to criticize the system in public. Again, I paraphrase.

    Here is where I believe that many years of experience may not prove to be the best qualification for advancement.
    Sometimes one has just been within a system so long that they accept it as “the way things are” and will be either resistant to change, or at least unable to proactively see and work to change existing problems.

    I have not yet decided my vote for judge. However, I think it is safe to say that if one sees the current system as the best we can do, then a vote for Commissioner Beronio is the safe choice. If one feels that fresh eyes and a less completely steeped in the current approach might be better, one of the other candidates might be the better choice.

    1. SODA

      Yes I remember similar comments after the judicial forum. My hesitation with the Commisioner is two-fold. Why she has not strived for a judgeship (?a word) before as she has been a commissioner for 25 years and the second is her age. What are the ramifications of a 63 year old becoming judge in terms of length of service and impact on retirement benefits. I realize this could be criticized as ageism and as someone older, I am sensitive to that, but in these times of ballooning pensions I ask what the future taxpayer burden will be if she is elected to this office, she continues to work a few years until retirement then retires. Did this come up in the forum?

      1. Tia Will

        SODA

        No, this did not come up during the forum, appropriately in my opinion. I think it is safe to say that all of the candidates are aspiring to this position for variable amounts of personal gain whether that is for their own financial well being in the future, or as a step in career building as well as for their desire to serve the public.
        I do not think it would be appropriate in the setting of a forum to start challenging folks on the basis of their personal financial considerations.
        I do however, agree that these are points worth considering when making our personal choice.

  3. DavisVoter

    Judge Rosenberg’s comment might be misinterpreted to suggest that commissioners are not allowed to be active. Commissioners can be active members of the State Bar. Anyone interested can easily verify this using online county judicial directories and the State Bar’s website.

    1. Davis Progressive

      this is a critical question. clearly judges are not active members of the bar. but are commissioners? are they supposed to be? what does that mean to be an active member of the bar for our purposes here.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Quick sample of Sac, Solano, Yolo – 8 commissioners, 4 active, 4 inactive


        Philip Stranger Inactive Sacramento
        Kenneth Brody Inactive Sacramento
        Scott Harman Active Sacramento
        Danny Haukedalen Active Sacramento
        Janene Beronio Inactive Yolo
        Haet, David Active Solano
        Pendergast, William Active Solano
        Wieser, Raymond Inactive Solano

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