This year, eight 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 our conversation with Alicia Molina, candidate for Office No. 42:
What work do you currently do and why do you do it?
I'm an immigration/domestic violence/family law attorney. I do the three different areas of law, but some of them intertwine, like domestic violence and immigration. They're very intertwined together because you have a lot of abusers who will try to keep the person in the relationship by threatening to report them. I help them get restraining orders. I help them with divorces. I help them with child custody and child support. That's the type of work I do. Currently in my office, I'm also now doing family law, helping people out with divorces, with custody, etc. I also do some landlord-tenant mediation.
What first drew you to a career in law and why did you become an attorney?
When I entered the 5th grade, I was in the 7th grade reading level and the teacher that I had... decided that I should not be in the 7th grade reading level, and he moved me down to 3rd grade. I was in shock because I had always been a good student. I talked to my 4th grade teacher and he told me, Alicia, there's going to be times when you're going to face people who are not going to like you for some reason or another, or they're going to have prejudice, or discrimination. Well, my parents are immigrants, so my mom didn't speak much English. My dad did, but he had to work three jobs, so he couldn't go to the school to speak. When my younger brothers and sisters were going through the school system, they started facing similar types of discrimination, and my mother would just send me. And I would go and I would fight with the school district and they would put them in the college-bound [classes]. From that point, I learned that the underrepresented and the disadvantaged, a lot of times don't have a voice because they don't know the system, or because of lack of education, or lack of support. I realized that someone had to be that voice. So from the beginning, I felt it was my calling to try and help the underrepresented so that they could be treated fairly and justly.
What makes you the best candidate for the office you're running for?
I think I'm the best candidate because I come from the community. I will be a reflection of the people that are going to be before me. The reason that I say that I'm going to be a reflection is because I have been in the trenches working with the community. For 14 years, I have worked at a nonprofit in Boyle Heights called the International Institute of Los Angeles where I help low-income people. I make sure to really immerse myself in the different cultures, in the different organizations, because I think every culture is unique. They have different things that they bring to the community, and they have different socioeconomic factors that are unique to them.
In your view what makes a good and effective judge?
I think the most important thing is compassion, respect, dignity, being unbiased, being fair, and understanding the different cultures and the different socioeconomic factors. And being smart enough to know that you're not going to know all of it. But to be aware that if you don't know these things, you need to immerse yourself into the different communities so that you can learn how the different communities function, so that you can be very fair and unbiased. And make sure that regardless of your sexual preference, your culture, your race, your nationality, your socioeconomic status, that everybody is treated equally and the same.
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.
Related: Meet the LA County judge candidates