On June 5, San Luis Obispo County voters will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate for SLO County Superior Court judge to replace Barry T. LaBarbera, who is retiring. The vast majority of the time, the governor appoints judges to our Superior Court bench upon the retirement of a sitting judge. This year, Judge LaBarbera's retirement coincides with the end of his six-year term. As a result, SLO County voters will determine which candidate will fill this open seat in the primary election.
In the race to fill Judge LaBarbera's seat, one candidate is already doing the work of a judge every day: Commissioner Tim Covello. Tim was appointed as a court commissioner by the local judges who observed his legal and administrative skills during a 25 year career in the local courts. He has been endorsed by 29 current and retired judicial officers, including two justices of the California Court of Appeal.
A campaign for judge is different from all other campaigns. Judicial ethics rules prevent a candidate for judge from voicing his or her opinion on political questions or stating how he or she might rule on particular issues. Instead, a judicial campaign focuses on the candidate's experience and qualifications.
The commentary to the code of judicial ethics states that sitting judges are permitted to endorse candidates for judicial office "because judicial officers have a special obligation to uphold the integrity, impartiality, and independence of the judiciary and are in a unique position to know the qualifications necessary to serve as a competent judicial officer."
The authors of this commentary have firsthand knowledge of Tim's qualifications based on his work in the District Attorney's Office and as a judicial colleague. We believe that judicial experience, broad ranging legal experience, and solid judgment are powerful reasons to vote for Tim Covello for Judge.
Judicial experience: Tim serves with distinction as a judicial officer in our court. He makes decisions every day in cases involving our county's residents. In his work for the court, Tim has proven himself to be a hardworking jurist who is committed to public service and the mission of the court to administer justice fairly, efficiently, and effectively.
Legal experience: Tim's work experience, integrity, and work ethic are of the highest caliber. As a criminal prosecutor, he successfully handled some of the most complex and serious cases that have been litigated in our community. The quality of his work and the breadth of his legal experience establish his credentials as an exceptionally capable and knowledgeable prosecutor.
As assistant district attorney, Tim worked tirelessly to develop policies and procedures to implement new laws and to improve overall operations of the office. These skills are equally important to the efficient administration of our court system.
Solid judgment: Tim has earned our respect for his unwavering commitment to the cause of justice. He is thoughtful, analytical, and scholarly in his approach to legal issues. He is open minded, fair, and dedicated to his work and to the public he serves. He has shown both courage and humility in taking on some of the most difficult challenges a prosecutor can face. He is exceptionally well qualified to serve as a Superior Court judge, and we welcome the opportunity to have him join us as a colleague. Δ
Barry T. LaBarbera, Charles S. Crandall, and Rita Federman are current judges of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Send comments through the editor at email@example.com or submit your opinion for publication at firstname.lastname@example.org.