Superior Court Budget Cuts Require a Judge with Experience in all Aspects of the Law

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Guest Commentary
by Daniel Brainard

The San Diego Superior Court announced in June that it will face historical budget cuts for the upcoming Fiscal Years. The tentative plan in place for FY 2012-13 will see the largest reduction and restructuring of services in the court’s history. This reduction will eliminate hundreds of positions including twenty-five courtroom clerks, seven staff attorneys, and twenty-one court commissioners. Overall the court is setting in place a 21% budget reduction from the previous fiscal year.

In the current election for Superior Court Judge voters will need to evaluate if a candidate can fulfill his assignment in the newly restructured and smaller court. Judicial candidates cannot choose the area of law they will preside over, rotating between probate, civil, criminal, juvenile, and family courts during their term.

The two candidates in the Superior Court race are Jim Miller and Robert Amador. Miller has practiced privately in San Diego in each of the five main areas of law. Amador is a Deputy District Attorney with his experience exclusive to criminal law.

Amador, before the cuts were made publicly stated on many occasions that he would be “fine” as a judge in the areas of law he acknowledged his experience is lacking because of the courts “substantial support staff” to “guide” him. Due to the cuts and reduction of staff, this staff “safety net” cannot be relied upon and would create a serious inability of our courts to administer justice in the majority of the areas of the law our courts serve.

Conversely, Miller has broad experience in all five of the primary areas of law served by the courts. In addition he has substantial experience as a Judge Pro Tem, an Arbitrator, and an appointed County of San Diego Hearing Officer, hearing appeals from the various county departments, thus allowing for justice to be served in all of our courts efficiently.

“To be a judge requires more than just being a good lawyer,” said Miller, “it requires experience in administering justice not just arguing one side or another. My hands on years of experience in multiple areas of law means that casting a vote for me will be a vote to have the judge make the decisions, not for an intern or a ‘research assistant’ to make the decision as Mr. Amador would have it.”

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Brainard, a volunteer supporting Jim Miller, previously served as an intern for State Senator Joel Anderson.

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