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By Nadin Abbott

October 22, 2012 (San Diego)—At a press conference called by active and retired members of the legal profession, prominent legal experts urged voters to reject Superior Court candidate Jim Miller. The County Bar Association found Miller “lacking qualifications.” Miller had previously been removed for cause as a Judge Pro Tempore and two weeks ago, had his endorsement by the Lincoln Club revoked.

The Honorable Howard Wiener, a retired judge, told media that “this press conference is to highlight the importance of a judicial election and the need to cast an informed vote.”

Wienger stated that “elections against an incumbent judge are rare.” He added that “when a Governor cannot fill an open seat,” it is up to the voters. This is where the County Bar Association comes in. Through questionnaires, interviews and other means the Association has come with a method to help the voter determine if a candidate is qualified to serve on the Bench.

“The 21 members of the Committee come from a varied background, with different political philosophies and varied practices as lawyers in both the public and private sectors.” After the process was over, the County Bar found that “Mr. (Robert) Amador was ‘well-qualified’ and Mr. (Jim) Miller was ‘lacking qualifications.’”

When asked if he was concerned after the June Primary, when Miller made it through the ballot, Wiener stated that “the June election was history.” He added that choosing a Judge affects all of us since a Judge has a power to rule in a death penalty case, as well as in a marital dispute and other matters. We need people with the temperament to sit on the Bench.

He added that people who run for the Bench in California need to be lawyers, and be in good standing for at least a year in the Bar.

When asked about Miller’s claims that the Association had not endorsed private practice attorneys who are Republicans, Weiner emphasized that organizations are free to chose who they endorse that will advance their agendas, moreover, the Bar has endorsed Republicans in the past. (For the record, on this race both Amador and Miller are Republicans.)

Among more than 20 legal professionals present at the conference were Jill Burkhardt, Past President of the Bar Association, retired Judge Leo Papas, Candance M, Carrol an attorney in private practice, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Dave Schallder President of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego.

Miller reacted to the event on his website, stating: “So I hear the "establishment" that has hand picked the judges for decades is having a little press conference today. Guess I wasn't on the guest list.”

ECM contacted both the Tea Party Patriots of San Diego and the Republican Party to ask whether they stand by their endorsement of Miller in light of recent events. The Tea Party Patriots said that they were looking into it  and indicated they were not aware the Lincoln Club pulled their endorsement. The local Republican Party office indicated that the Party cannot give an answer at this time. The State Republican Party was unaware of the issues, so articles on the conservative Lincoln Club pulling its endorsement was sent to the State Party office.

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What a hit piece!

This hit piece if off on a couple different things. First, Mr. Miller didnt say that the bar doesnt endorse republican candidates. He said that the bar doesnt endorse private practice republican candidates. There's a big difference there. Its interesting that the bar association thought he was qualified enough to hear their arbitration cases. Hmmm...politics. I'd like to know where Mr. Amador's arbitration (or judge pro tem) experience is.


Next, how can a candidate that only practices in one area of law (there are 5 and judges rotate) be considered well qualified? I know for a fact that Jim has practiced in all 5. Something to consider: If you take a breach of contract case to court, do you want it heard by somebody who knows contract law, or someone who's practiced criminal law their whole career? I'll take the person with that contract law experience every time.


The last paragraph is very misleading. I reference the previous comment about tea parties. And the county republican party has demonstrated that they are strongly behind Miller.


Lastly, is anyone actually surprised that the DA's office called a press conference to get one of their own elected? I'm not. Most judges come from a government background, so of course they want to keep it that way. The DA's office is afraid of Miller because he represents a threat to their little downtown club.


So thats what I got today. Hopefully this mag quits pulling for Amador and becomes a neutral. Amador has stated that he is a great prosecutor. Lets do whats best and keep him in that position.

We do not run "hit pieces.'

I checked and you're correct on the quote, which we'll amend. 

It is common for judges to have practiced in only limited areas of the law. 

The big issue here is the conduct of Miller.  It's pretty rare (I've never seen it) for so many prominent members of the Bar and retired judges to take a stand against a candidate.  He was thrown off as a Judge Pro Tempore for cause and then apparently lied about that in an endorsement process, not only  in an interview, but in a followup phonecall per Larry Stirling at the Lincoln Club.  He also posted remarks on his Facebook Page that according to legal experts we talked with clearly violated judicial canons of ethics. He made disparaging remarks about parties in cases before him  -- in one case while on break at the courthouse.  He also slammed other attorneys, judges, even a law enforcement officer.  

Here are some prior stories we ran on this race, for those who want to learn more.  We also covered a candidate forum at which both of these candidates spoke before the primary. The latter was a positive piece. ECM does not endorse candidates but as media we have an obligation to inform the public if ethical issues are raised about a candidate.  The problems Miller has go far beyond whether the Bar rated his qualified or not.

Judicial candidates forum:

Judicial temperament? Facebook posts, lawsuit raise judgment issues:

Lincoln Club withdraws endorsement:

Also our coverage of his prior run for office:

As for other Tea Party groups, if you have contact info please post.






Oh really?

So since you fairly report, then we can expect a story on the Amador v Miller lawsuit from earlier in the election? Just for kicks, you should interview Miller's attorney and find out the kind of stunt Amador pulled at trial. Do some digging, dont just take Amador's word for it.

So we can also expect a story on how Miller signs have been disappearing across the county, replaced by Amador signs? I wouldnt expect that from the guy who says his best quality is treating everyone with "respect".

And although it is common for judges to only have experience in one area of law, it is better to be experienced in all of them. I dont think any logical person would dispute that.

And with Kreep's win, and this being a close race, I dont think its too unusual for people connected with the DA's office to come together and rally for their own. The DA's office has the inside track to the bench, and for once, there is a threat to their system. I dont find it too surprising that they are fighting to keep that.

You must've missed our earlier story.

We interviewed Mr. Miller regarding the lawsuit, including various claims maid by Miller against Amador:

I have not heard about Miller's signs being stolen. We don't read minds, and the Miller campaign hasn't informed us of that problem. There seems to be a rash of sign stealing in East County.

That said, is he certain they were stolen, or might some property owners or the Lincoln Club have taken them down because they have changed which candidate they support?  Signs disappear a lot in campaigns on all sides of the aisle, but it doesn't necessarly mean a rival is involved. There can be people in the community who like/dislike candidates and unfortuantely vandalize or remove signs without permission.






Still Endorsed

The San Diego iCaucus group has investigated the claims against Mr. Miller and found no reason to withdraw his endorsement. During the extended vetting process, Mr. Miller proved himself to be ethically principled and determined to follow our Constitution as intended by the Founding Fathers. One can't help but be suspicious about allegations that arise at the last minute in a close race.

Tea Party looking into it?

Who is the Tea Party Patriots that you contacted that was going to look into it? Tea Party Patriots, to my understanding, is a national group that no longer has any affliations in San Diego.  There are several local Tea Party groups, that are very involved with this election, and everyone that I know of has endorsed Jim Miller over Amador.  The Lincoln Club (a PAC) pulling their endorsement means nothing to the local Tea Parties.  Please contact a local group for a comment, not a national group that has no idea of what is happening in San Diego. Some suggestions would be: SoCalTaxRevolt, Patriot Coalition of San Diego, Tri-City Tea Party, Ramona Tea Party.