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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yolo County Judge Race Gets Down and Dirty

I have not covered much on the race election race for judge. It is interesting to see signs and election brochures in a judge's race. Most judges think of themselves not as politicians but as a member of the bench. Frankly that's a good thing for the most part.

But from the start, the race for judge in Yolo County has been different. This is more like a political race than a battle of two judges.

In the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday morning, Deputy District Attorney James Walker actually started taking shots at Judge Fall.
"Walker claims that for years, Fall has been known as a judge who humiliates lawyers, jurors and witnesses in his courtroom and abuses his judicial authority.

"He has a history of berating attorneys for not being prepared or on time," Walker said.

Most lawyers won't criticize a judge openly because they fear retaliation, Walker said.

"But if people told the truth, they would tell you what a terrible judge he is," the prosecutor contended."
James Walker continues:
"Walker said he set his sights on Fall's seat after the judge ruled against him in a murder trial, leading to a manslaughter conviction and a lighter sentence for a West Sacramento shotgun killer.

"That's when I decided I was going to run against him," Walker said."
James Walker argues that it is the fact that Judge Fall hands down "light sentences" that has him seeking his spot on the bench.

Judge Fall has for the most part tried to avoid the mudslingling and has run on his record for the most part.
"Fall, meanwhile, said he's appalled at Walker's mudslinging and is unwilling to trade insults because of his judicial office.

Instead, Fall said, he has tried to run on his record."
He did respond to Mr. Walker's charges of leniency in the murder trial:
"As for the ruling against Walker in the murder case, Fall said he threw out the confession of the young defendant because it had serious problems, as an appellate court had noted in a previous ruling.

"If Mr. Walker disagreed with me, he could have taken me up on appeal," Fall said. "He didn't. The fact that he let my ruling stand without challenging it says a lot about who was right and who was wrong in that case."
The race for Judge has been surprisingly interesting. Both men are Republicans. However, Tim fall seems to be more moderate than James Walker. Walker is a product of the Yolo County District Attorney's Office and a career prosecutor. Tim Fall went to King Hall at UC Davis for law school while James Walker went to McGeorge law.

It is also interesting to see Judge Fall in pictures with fellow Judge Dave Rosenberg. You just do not see Judge's in campaign brochures very often. This race bares watching as it heads into the final days.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting