It’s primary season for candidates in contested judicial elections all around the country, a process that often brings out the best and the worst in our budding jurists. In California, the worst may be represented (for this cycle, at least) by San Diego Superior Court candidate Shawn McMillan, whose regular posting of raw political and social Facebook memes has drawn sharp criticism. McMillan has recently admitted that he posted “insensitive” material, and argues that he shared them “to spark a conversation.” If that was the goal, it worked: many people are now discussing how his actions do not reflect an acceptable level of judicial temperament and professionalism.
On a more positive note, The Hollywood Reporter conducted an interesting interview with attorney (and L.A. County Superior Court judicial candidate) Troy Slaten, who had a successful childhood acting career on television shows like Cagney & Lacey and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Slaten comes across as pretty thoughtful about the role of a state trial judge and the oddities of judicial elections. He’s certainly more thoughtful than the interviewer, who at times seems to revel in his own ignorance of the candidates.
Slaten points out in the interview that elections are a viable alternative for aspiring judges, because the politics of judicial appointments can be a substantial roadblock. It’s a fair point. But one might still wonder why Californians tolerate such a sloppy electoral process to select most of the their third branch of state government.