This year, eight candidates are running for four spots in L.A. Superior Court. The court serves nearly 10 million people spread out across the county, and judges oversee both criminal and civil matters – everything from contract disputes to homicide trials.
Take Two spoke to all eight of the candidates running for the bench. Here are highlights from our conversation with Javier Perez, candidate for Office No. 84:
What work do you currently do and why do you do it?
I’m the Supervising District Attorney out of the West Covina D.A.’s office. I’ve been a D.A. for 26 years. I truly believe that it’s my mission to secure justice for people, for the community, for victims, for witnesses. And that’s why I do it.
What does justice mean for you?
You don’t just define it simply by incarceration or punishment of an individual. But trying to make life better for the community, hopefully for the defendant, obviously his or her victim, the victim’s family. The facts of the case, the defendant’s record, are there collateral consequences? Are there alternative treatment programs if they have mental or addiction issues to see if they’re better served in those programs as opposed to incarcerated? Because at the end of the day, we are trying to make the community better. Obviously, sometimes that’s not an alternative, because the crime and the defendant’s record is such that it requires incarceration.
What makes you the best candidate for the office you're seeking?
There are several different types of characteristics that are necessary in order for someone to be a good judge: judicial temperament, legal knowledge, leadership, decisiveness, courage, respect to the people that they appear in front of and against. I have those skills. It was demonstrated every day in my career. Six-and-a-half years ago, Steve Cooley saw those characteristics and promoted me to a supervisor of the second busiest area court in Los Angeles County. Three years after that, Jackie Lacey saw that faith that Mr. Cooley had in me was justified and transferred me to the busiest area of the court in L.A. County. Last year alone in West Covina, we prosecuted over 10,000 cases... But we reviewed thousands more where we felt there was not reasonable suspicion or probable cause, or the investigation just didn’t prove that the defendant or suspect was guilty, which required courage in telling the police officers, we’re not filing this case.
What is the most important role a judge plays?
There’s several roles a judge plays. He or she has to be impartial. They have to ensure that everyone receives a just and fair day in court. They set a tone in the courtroom of respect. Too often these days, people have a lack of respect towards each other. I think when the judge sets the tone as respectful and demands that everyone respect each other in the courtroom, the system works a lot better. I believe people trust the system to work better and if people trust the system, it will work better.
What should the public know about who you are outside the courtroom?
My parents are immigrants from Mexico. I was born and raised in Montebello. I’m one of seven children. I’m married with three children. I’m a part of the community. It’s important to me that not only have I participated in the raising of my children in terms of all their activities, I’ve also shown that I care about the community in participating in programs such as at the Hollenbeck Youth Center, where I’m on the Advisory Board. I’ve had fundraisers at my house. I’ve volunteered many, many hours there at many of the activities we have for at-risk youth in the Boyle Heights area. That’s the type of person I am.
This series is a part of our voter game plan, in which we make it easier for you to vote. To read more about the L.A. County Superior Court Judge candidates, and for a digital version of your personalized ballot, visit kpcc.org/votergameplan. (Don't see all of the judicial candidates at that link? They'll be on Take Two now through the election, so check back for more!)
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