By Miriam Raftery
Photos: Judge Gary Kreep and challengers Matt Brower, Tim Nader, Steve Miller and Victor Manel Torres
May 26, 2018 (San Diego) – Four candidates are running against San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, who committed 29 acts of judicial misconduct. He was censured by the State Commission on Judicial Performance, which found that Judge Kreep showed a lack of judicial temperament and ran his courtroom in a manner suggesting bias, including making derogatory comments about women attorneys, minorities, and people with cases before him. He came within one vote of being removed as a judge. Kreep obtained his law degree at the University of San Diego and worked as chief executive officer and general counsel of the nonprofit United States Justice Foundation before being elected in2012.
The four challengers are Deputy District Attorney Matt Brower, Deputy Attorney General Tim Nader, who has also served as Mayor of Chula Vista and past president of Southwest Community College, former federal prosecutor Steve Miller, and civil rights lawyer Victor Manuel Torres.
Two of these candidates reached out to conduct interviews on our radio show on KNSJ. You can listen to our interviews here:
The San Diego County Bar Association has ranked Brower and Miller qualified, Nader well qualified, Torres exceptionally well qualified, and Judge Kreep “lacking qualifications.”
Below are details on the challengers.
Matt Brower: Currently a San Diego Deputy District Attorney and Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps Reserve, Brower is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He says he is running to restore ethical conduct to the judicial seat and pledges to treat all people with professionalism, dignity and respect.
Brower is endorsed by the Democratic Party and prominent officials in both parties including Supervisor Dianne Jacob, La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis, La Mesa Vice Mayor Kristine Alesio, Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez, and California Assemblymember Shirley Weber as well as by seven retired Superior Court judges, the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association, the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs Association and other law enforcement groups and Service Employees International Union Local 221.
Tim Nader: Nader has criminal, civil and family law experience. He worked for the state Attorney General for many years and later served as Mayor and City Councilmember in Chula Vista, as a nonprofit executive director, a community college board trustee, and a child support attorney for the County before returning to the AG’s office. He says he helped oversee cleanup of the Southwestern Community College District board after members were convicted of wrongdoing before his election. He says he would conduct himself in a way that litigants would know that whatever their background, they will be listened to and “get a fair shake” with decisions based on the evidence, not biases or other factors.
He is endorsed by Superior Court Judge Rhonda Trapp, Congressman Juan Vargas, former San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald, numerous other elected officials, the Southwestern College Education Association, numerous educators, the Martin Luther King Democratic Club, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Steve Miller worked for the California Attorney General in Los Angeles while in law school at the University of Southern California and later at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office as Deputy City Attorney. He served as a federal prosecutor for 27 years, becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He says judges should follow the law and preserve individuals’ rights. He says his guiding principals are the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Miller is endorsed by five retired Superior Court Judges, by former San Diego City Deputy District Attorney Kim-Thoa Hoang, and former judicial candidate Garland Peed.
Victor Manuel Torres is an Air Force veteran who graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law; he also received legal training at the National Criminal Defense College and as a trial lawyer for Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. He’s practiced mainly federal and state criminal trial work since 1989, also representing clients in civil litigation. He has served on the board of directors of the San Diego County Bar Association and was named La Raza Lawyers’ Attorney of the Year, also honored by California Legal Assistance with the Cruz Reynosa Award. He’s also volunteer as a Judge Pro Tem in Small Claims Court.
A political independent, he says the deciding factor should be whether a candidate will make an honest, fair and impartial judge, adding, “I believe that starts with independence. And that takes courage. The kind of courage I have exhibited my entire career.” His endorsements cross the political aisle, from the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council to the conservative business group, the Lincoln Club. Other endorsements include the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, several current and retired judges, the Latino Political Association of San Diego, San Diego Public Defenders Association, several deputy district attorneys, Escondido Councilmember Olga Diaz, and Marvin Mizell, Deputy Attorney General and past president of the San Diego County Bar Association.