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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Judge, Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 72

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Qualifications, Sentencing, Media coverage

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. Please provide a brief list of your qualifications in bullet format. (No more than 25 words for this section.)

Answer from Hilleri Grossman Merritt:

  • Rated "Well Qualified"; Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • 14 Years as a Deputy District Attorney
  • Prosecuted 120 Criminal Trials
  • D.A. of the Month June, 2006

Answer from Steven A. Simons, Sr:

  • 21½ Years Civil Trial Litigator
  • Experience - Civil, Criminal, Probate Law
  • Over 150 Trials and Arbitrations
  • Nominated as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year 2008

? 2. How much flexibility should judges have in determining the length of sentences? (No more than 150 words total for questions 2 and 3.)

Answer from Hilleri Grossman Merritt:

Judges should have the discretion to impose the appropriate punishment based on each particular case, yet there should be consistency on the bench, so that there is fairness and equality in the justice system. For most crimes, a judge can choose from the imposition of probation all the way to different terms in the state prison. For the most serious and violent crimes, defendants receive life sentences.

Answer from Steven A. Simons, Sr:

In determining the length of a sentence a Judge must exercise the wisdom of Solomon. While there must be sufficient leeway allowed so that the punishment fits the crime, the Judge must uphold the People's intent in the enactment of the law. In those cases where the law requires a maximum sentence the Judge should be bound to impose that sentence with equality and consistency to all those charged with the crime.

? 3. Should more trials be covered by TV and radio? How would you handle media coverage in your courtroom? (No more than 150 words total for questions 2 and 3.)

Answer from Hilleri Grossman Merritt:

The decision whether or not to broadcast a particular trial must be made on a case by case basis. The rights of the media to broadcast court proceedings, the privacy rights of victims and witnesses to crimes and the rights of the accused to receive a fair trial must be balanced. Of course, all such hearings are open to the public, and anyone can come to court and observe any trial.

Answer from Steven A. Simons, Sr:

The Constitution guarantees openness and transparency in our Courtrooms. Such openness reduces judicial anarchy. Any broadcast of courtroom proceedings must, of necessity, balance the rights of the accused and the rights victims with the right of the People to know that justice is being done. I would seek to open the Courtroom to greater media presence, utilizing modern capabilities and technology to facilitate the openness and balancing these rights.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Until 5:00 p.m. on September 5, 2008, candidates for Superior Court Judge must limit their answers to 175 words total for all questions so that a paper Voters Guide may be published. Specific word limits are as follows: 25 words for question 1; 150 words total for questions 2 and 3.

After 5:00 p.m. on September 5, 2008, word limits will no longer apply. Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League or by Smart Voter, and must comply with California law as stated in California Election Code sections 13307 and 13308. Candidates are restricted to identifying their own qualifications and may not comment on any other candidate’s qualifications, character, or activities.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 24, 2009 10:34 PST
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