2 Public Defenders and 1 Private Criminal Defense Attorney Earn Right to Advance to November Election as Progressive Judge Candidates

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By The Vanguard Staff

LOS ANGELES, CA – Two public defenders and one private criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles County, claiming they want to end what they call is the “the LA Superior Court prosecutor-to-judge-pipeline,” are all moving on to the November General Election after the California Primary March 5.

Ericka Wiley, George Turner and La Shae Henderson advanced after what their supporters, in a statement, suggest is a “a broad demonstration of voter supporta vote of confidence from voters about their values and approach.”

The Defenders of Justice – as they are nicknamed – as said in the joint statement, “follow in the footsteps of attorneys in cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans, and seek to build on the 2022 victory of public defender and now-judge Holly Hancock, who voters chose by a 17-point margin” in Los Angeles.

The candidates are “focused on Black freedom and liberation, alternatives to incarceration, and social justice…grew up in South Central Los Angeles and Inglewood, bringing to their candidacy lived knowledge of the issues that working class communities of color face,” said the statement.

“Each of them also brings a career-long background in public defense to the table, collectively with over 60 years of experience,” the statement added, promising voters they will “continue to fight for diversion where appropriate, community-based services, and implementation within the judiciary of court decisions like Humphrey and laws and LA County policies like Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, Props 47, 57, and Measure J.”

George Turner, a public defender and candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court, Seat 39, said, “I can’t wait to continue to bring the values of transparency and democracy to our campaign during the general election. I’m grateful the voters have spoken in support of a progressive vision for transforming the judicial bench, and I am committed to upholding their progressive vision on this path to the bench in November and beyond.

Ericka Wiley, a public defender and candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court, Seat 48, said, “These election results are a huge victory for our communities. It is incredible that not one, not two, but three public defenders will be advancing into the general election to continue to inform voters about the need for progressive values on the judicial bench. 

“I am committed to bringing my experience as a public defender to the bench to both diversify that institution, and to prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable community members as a bench officer,” Wiley added.

La Shae Henderson, a private criminal defense attorney and candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court, Seat 97, noted, “I am overjoyed and excited to continue this journey to the judicial bench in November. Throughout the primary election campaign cycle, we learned that the values of Los Angeles voters align with our values as public defenders, and that voters would like to see change in the judiciary. 

“With my background in juvenile justice, I not only bring that change, but I am committed to ensuring that the court room is transformed, and that outcomes will be more fair for all defendants and community members,” Henderson added.

Gabriela Vázquez, deputy director of La Defensa, argued, “Los Angeles County showed up for the Defenders of Justice at the polls this March. Despite decades of harmful ‘tough-on-crime’ policies and years of law enforcement investment in prosecutorial campaigns for judge, our Defenders prevailed against all odds.”

Vázquez added, “Their victories show that voters are hungry to be a part of the movement to transform the judiciary. We couldn’t be more excited that all three of the Defenders will move on to the general election, and be one step closer to our ultimate vision of changing the composition of the judiciary for the well-being of our communities.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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