First in an Occasional Series
I am challenging Gary Kreep in the upcoming November election for Seat 37 – California Superior Court Judge. This race stands out as the only one of six county-wide races from the June primary to advance to the general election in November. No matter where you live in San Diego County this race will appear on your ballot.
I began running for this seat when I saw the Commission on Judicial Performance had censured Judge Kreep in August of 2017 for committing over two dozen violations of the Cannons on Judicial Ethics that govern the behavior of judges in our local courts. Though these ethical violations were varied the ones that caught my attention were those involving unprofessional and disrespectful treatment toward women and minorities in court by Judge Kreep. I was already aware that Judge Kreep had participated in a lawsuit to prohibit President Obama’s name from appearing on the ballot in 2012 premised on the debunked theory that our nation’s first black president’s birth certificate lacked authenticity. This was known commonly as the birther movement. Once I became aware of the nature of Judge Kreep’s ethics violations it confirmed my suspicions regarding his worldview and made it clear to me he needed to be removed from his position of authority in our community.
Three other members of our local legal community were equally stirred to force a correction and also filed to run against Judge Kreep in the June primary. These were Attorney Victor Torres, Deputy Attorney General Tim Nader, and Assistant United States Attorney Steve Miller. Prior to the vote in June we each went before the San Diego County Bar Association to be evaluated on our qualifications to serve as a Superior Court Judge. Victor Torres was rated Exceptionally Qualified, Tim Nader was rated Highly Qualified, Steve Miller and I were rated Qualified, and Judge Kreep was rated Lacking in Qualifications to Serve as a Superior Court Judge by the County Bar. I remain as the sole qualified candidate to move on to the general election in November.
The outcome of the June primary was interesting for the manner by which the electorate in San Diego County was fractured. Less than 20 percentage points separated each of the five candidates. Despite this fracturing of the electorate, the voters of San Diego County held Gary Kreep to a mere 30.5 percent of the overall vote whereas collectively, the four challengers received over 69 percent of the overall vote. I received 26.35 percent, trailing the incumbent by just over 4 percentage points. This resounding rejection of a sitting Superior Court Judge is unprecedented and highlights this race as unique in our county’s electoral history. It is interesting to note that state-wide there were 22 Superior Court Judges challenged at the ballot box in June. 21 of these incumbents were successful in ending these primary bids by earning over 50 percent of the votes and handily so. Only Gary Kreep stands out as having failed to do this resulting in this being the sole remaining electoral judge challenge in the entire state.
It was uplifting for me that during the primary campaign each of the challengers were able to direct their focus primarily on the incumbent rather than the other challengers. This remained true despite each of us appearing in numerous campaign-related events together. This was particularly true for Tim Nader and I who as members of the same political party (the Democratic Party) repeatedly went before dozens of community-based and affiliation-based Democratic clubs seeking endorsements. He earned numerous Democratic club endorsements as did I, though each was hotly contested, and through the process we found that we shared many interests and have become friends as a result. Following the primary, I sat down with each of these fine competitors and each is supporting me in my continued bid against Gary Kreep.
I am keenly aware of the need for fairness and uniformity in the administration of the law. I am a motivated attorney with extensive litigation experience who as a Superior Court Judge would be tirelessly dedicated to upholding our state’s laws. Based on my experience as a Deputy District Attorney and Marine Judge Advocate I understand the need for judges to be fair and uniform in the application of our laws.
Throughout my career as a Deputy District Attorney and Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps I have handled a wide variety of cases which allows me to bring a competitive breadth and depth of litigation experience to the bench. It should be noted that not all of my experience as an attorney has been in the practice of criminal law. I also bring significant experience in both international and operational law stemming from my work in the U.S. Marine Corps, including my current assignment at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Additionally, I have represented hundreds of clients in handling their legal assistance needs involving wills, trusts, powers of attorney, divorces, landlord/tenant disputes, etc., as a legal assistance attorney in the Marines.
Of particular applicability to the role of a Superior Court Judge for which I am running, I also have extensive experience as a Military Preliminary Hearing Officer. In this capacity, I have presided over murders, complicated embezzlements, and many serious crimes of a sexual nature in court at the preliminary hearing level. This experience has made me particularly qualified to serve in the role of Superior Court Judge due to my extensive experience actually presiding over many complex cases in court.
Lastly, while on deployments as a Judge Advocate with Marine infantry battalions (3rd Battalion 7th Marines and 3rd Battalion 4th Marines) in Iraq and Afghanistan I garnered significant operational experience. These experiences have accentuated my coolness under fire, broadened my understanding of our nation’s role in the world, and enlightened my perspective of diverse cultures. These are all highly valuable attributes for those serving on the bench.
I would be honored to receive your vote for Superior Court Judge, Seat 37.
Editor’s Note: The San Diego Free Press has asked three dozen candidates in key electoral contests from throughout the county for submissions explaining why they think progressive-leaning voters should consider voting for them. Many of these candidates are running in down-ballot contests often overlooked by voters.
Publication of this article does not constitute an endorsement on our part, though it should be obvious we’re interested in what these candidates have to say. Our Progressive Voter Guide, to be published at about the same time as mail-in ballots go out in October, will include the endorsements of the SDFP editorial board.