This year, 8 candidates are running for four spots on 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 Kim L. Nguyen, candidate for Office No. 158:
What work do you currently do and why do you do it?
Currently, I serve as a Deputy Attorney General for the state of California. In that capacity, I am a civil litigator for the state. I work on a number of different cases including election law challenges, constitutional law challenges, and a lot of different type of litigation involving the state's general fund. I think it's incredibly interesting work. It gives me the opportunity to go into court very often and it's an opportunity to represent the people of California which is something that I am proud to do.
What should the public know about who you are outside the courtroom?
One thing I do do during my spare time is, I'm a volunteer attorney for Advancing Justice Los Angeles. That's a pro-bono organization and I work in the citizenship project which helps legal immigrants become U.S. citizens. It's incredibly rewarding work. I think back to my own parents who came to this country in 1975 as refugees. The day my father became a citizen of this country, I remember being at that ceremony and seeing him cry - really the work that I do now, helping people become citizens brings everything back, full circle.
What makes you the best candidate for the office you're running for?
I've been practicing as a lawyer for 16 years now and in those 16 years, I've had the opportunity to work in the public sector and in the private sector to litigate in the trial courts and the appellate courts and to immerse myself in many different areas of the law including; civil law, criminal law, family law, and juvenile dependency law. I also have experience presiding over a courtroom as a pro tem judge. So, in terms of qualification, I believe I am the most qualified candidate.
I also think I'm the best candidate for this job because in many ways, my story is the story of so many Angelenos. My parents are immigrants. They came to this country with literally the clothes on their backs and nothing else. They lived in tents at Camp Pendleton. My dad's first job in this country was busing tables in a restaurant. My mom sewed bags and bags of garments every single week ... And now here I am, having gone to UCLA and Harvard Law School, and running for judge... I know what it's like to struggle for everything you have and to face odds that seem insurmountable.
In your view, what makes a good judge?
I think a judge needs to be humble. I think a judge needs to understand that he or she doesn't know everything and has the opportunity with every single case, to hear what the parties are saying, to hear what the attorneys are saying, and to learn as much as possible in that case. Second, the judge needs to be hard working. You need to come in prepared every single day having read the briefs, having understood the issues, having researched the issues, and really allowing the litigants and the lawyers to maximize their time in the courtroom with you as prepared as possible. Third, I think a judge needs to be absolutely fair and equitable at all times. Judges have to apply the law to the facts fairly, impartially, and with an eye towards making sure that justice is served.
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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