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Judge clarifies claims

By From page A1 | May 23, 2012

Incumbent Superior Court Judge Warren Stracener called accusations that he’s exaggerated his experience “quibbling and nonsense … a manufactured issue,” after a recent candidate forum.

He also had some sharp comments on the judicial vetting process in El Dorado County, suggesting that judge candidates who solicit endorsements and campaign contributions from local lawyers and judges jeopardize their judicial independence.

None of that came up during a sparsely attended League of Women Voters candidate forum between Stracener and challengers Joseph Hoffman and Stephen Valentine in El Dorado Hills on May 17. But the incumbent was eager to set the record straight with Village Life afterward.

Stracener was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill a newly created superior court seat.

The appointment bypassed a long-standing local vetting process for judicial candidates, a fact that he claims puts him at odds with the local legal establishment, despite the real-world vetting he experienced while litigating high-profile cases for the Schwarzenegger administration.

“They had seven years with me and took a long look before they appointed me, but I didn’t pass through the locals up here,” he said. “It’s a local process and they want their guy on the bench.”

Stracener insists he hasn’t solicited any endorsements or money locally. “I don’t owe anything to anyone up here,” he said. “If you have a case in litigation and you learned that the opposing attorney gave the judge $1,000, how would you feel?

“It’s a matter of judicial independence,” he said.

Greg Jones, who is Hoffman’s publicist, countered, “What about all those Sacramento attorneys that have endorsed him? They’re up here all the time.”

Exaggeration matter
Stracener took the bench in January 2011 and has spent the last 17 months in delinquency, dependency and traffic court.

He’s been criticized by local attorneys for exaggerating the total number of cases he’s handled in that time. Fellow Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister, who has endorsed Hoffman, joined the chorus in a May 9 letter to the Mountain Democrat editor, alleging that court records don’t back up Stracener’s claims.

Village Life  reported Stracener telling a local Tea Party group in March that he’d heard more than 2,000 “matters” in dependency and delinquency court.

Stracener explained last week that he arrived at 2,000 by extrapolation. He hears between 25 and 35 “matters” per week, he said. “Multiply that times the 17 months I’ve been on the job.”

His opponents have pointed out that many of those “matters” are the same cases.

“They don’t understand how dependency works,” countered Stracener. “It’s not like a civil case where they come back for separate motions.” Each stage of the process has separate orders, proceedings, and legal issues, he said. “That’s why I use the term ‘matter.’”

Supreme Court appearance
Stracener said semantics are also to blame for recent questions about his claim that he’s appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in “Cummings vs. Connell,” a highlight of his legal resume.

He represented state Director of Personnel Administration Marty Morgenstern, one of three defendants in the case, and “won it on papers,” he said.

“People assume ‘appearance’ means oral argument,” he said, but the vast majority of non-criminal cases are “decided on papers” in an “appearance by written brief.”

“You don’t have to go in and argue,” he added. “I argued and won it at trial, then won it on papers in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and, eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court.”

District Attorney Vern Pierson, a Hoffman supporter, isn’t buying it. Reached by phone, he called Stracener’s definition of appearance “very  misleading — It’s like buying a horse and saying you are a cowboy.”

Shoot out
Stracener was displeased with the tenor of the current campaign, which suffered another image blow when the recent “judge shoot out” was canceled shortly after it was announced. During the forum Stracener first said he never agreed to the charity event, then said he thought he was simply signing at the Republican Women’s meeting where the challenge was made.

“Since when does a Republican Women’s sign-in sheet ask for the caliber of your weapon?” asked Valentine.

Stracener called the actions of his opponents’ supporters “unconscionable in terms of a judge’s race,” he said. “The real issue is that I’ve made thousands of decisions and not one has been overturned.”

In his letter to the editor, Phimister took Stracener to task on that claim as well: “The Court of Appeal directed him to correct his conclusion regarding a case he had decided or they would do it for him.”

Phimister also states: “… from the beginning he was obsessed with the possibility of being reversed.” He concludes “Even the Court of Appeal and the State Supreme Court get reversed. The secret to never being reversed is to never make a decision.”

Mike Roberts

Discussion | 25 comments

  • Chuck HollandMay 21, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    The more appropriate explanation is Political Spin, Stracener believes the more spin he puts out to the voter, the more dizzy the voter becomes. Well that's not the case with this voter. Stracener needs to be taken to task on the misleading information espoused. He by passed the vetting process, receiving what amounts to a political repayment from the former Govener for being a loyal "Yes" man. Stracener claims he has not sought the support or endorsements of the local layers, Hmm, well he met with one of my lawyers seeking his support. The only way to explain that, is to admit he lies. As for the amount of cases he claims to have heard in Delinquency and Dependency, he claims over 2000 on the You Tube video posted on his own web site. the court documents I received indicate less that 700. Not even to a plural figure exceeding one thousand. Of the cases he tries to explain in the article a portion of those were heard by another judge. A little misleading? For his claims of appearing before the US Supreme Court. WOW, He makes big claims to victory here. A call to the Supreme Court reveals he has NEVER appeared before them. Fact is, the case he sites in the article was argued before the Court, However by a private firm hired by the State of California. Spin, or just another Lie? Voters don't be fooled, Google Warren Stacener, Check You Tube, learn the facts before you vote. We don't need a dis-honest judge.

  • EDHMotherMay 22, 2012 - 6:12 am

    Looks pretty clear to me, Arnold Schwarzenegger picks judges like he picks his house keepers, with very poor judgement. Politicians are already suspected of being less than truthful, but when its proven we need to take every step possible to remove them. This Stacener guy has got to go. FYI, I goggled and found www.warrenstracenerforjudge.com , It has all the information you need about this dirty judge.

  • helputoseethetruthMay 24, 2012 - 9:52 pm

    Shame on you if you can't figure out that this is a b.s. website! Must be a Hoffman supporter!

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 8:21 am

    For those who have called me regarding the Supreme Court, Their phone number is 202-479-3000. They will connect you with the person that will confirm Stracener was admitted in 1998 (by paying a $100 fee) but has NEVER made an appearance there. Sorry I haven't been able to return everyone's phone calls.

  • Joe FreemanMay 24, 2012 - 8:42 am

    I thought id check this out for myself. Called the number and was told something diffrent. The clerk told me stracener filed a brief and that made it an appearance. Thanks for the number.

  • ShaunMay 22, 2012 - 8:33 am

    The reason Pierson doesn't understand that Stracener has in fact made an appearance before the Supreme Court is due to his lack of experience in civil matters. As a District Attorney (and now more of a political figurehead than a practicing attorney), you don't file many briefs with the court, and when you do they are very short, poorly written, and never decide the outcome of a case. In the civil arena, filing briefs, answers, and other pleadings constitute "appearances." Stracener's claim to have appeared before the Supreme Court is 100% accurate. Although he has never engaged the Court in oral argument, that is not the end of the analysis - anyone with a civil background understands this concept. Even the Rules of the Supreme Court, if you bothered looking there, confirm this. Stracener, by way of thoroughly researched and written argument, prevailed in a matter filed in the United States Supreme Court. I really hope the readers see this for what it is - Hoffman's ill-informed supporters are intimidated by Stracener's unmatched breadth of litigation experience and are taking issue with semantics they truly don't understand. I certainly wouldn't expect a bail bondsman to understand this nuance.

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 9:26 am

    I would hardly call myself "intimidated" by Warren Stracener. I've spent years in El Dorado County exposing and removing dis-honest and corrupt politicians. The difference between myself and "Shaun" is I use my full real name. As for the DA, your home work is incomplete. Mr. Pierson served as a Deputy AG with exposure to ALL types of cases and courts. As for Straceners claims to have "appeared" before the US Supreme Court, he has now admitted he hasn't appeared. (See Mt. Demo Editorial Wed edition) in Cummings v. Connell, a writ was sought and denied. Case closed, but one fact still remains, Warren Stracener has never appeared before the US Supreme Court. He did pay the $100 for the certificate any attorney can hang on the wall though. Does that count?

  • ShaunMay 22, 2012 - 10:13 am

    You're right on one point: we don't need a dishonest judge. And if you're as interested in removing the corrupt politicians in the county as you say you are, why in the world would you back a guy like Hoffman? Hoffman, by allowing his friend/client to deposit fund's in a client trust account that Hoffman is legally responsible for maintaining, breached his ethical obligations as an attorney. These secret deposits permitted his client/friend to evade detection by judgment creditors and by law enforcement, and perpetuated a fraud on the members of our community. This behavior alone has resulted in two-year suspensions from practicing law in the past. A client trust account is special tool given to attorneys who are entrusted with the ethical obligation not to let them be used for any improper purpose. Hoffman has demonstrated that he is willing to abuse this trust. And what does Hoffman have to say about it? Nothing. I haven't seen a quote from anyone other than his publicist Greg Jones in weeks. Hoffman is hiding behind his imaginary shield of attorney-client privilege (which doesn't apply when a lawyer's services have been utilized in the perpetuation of a crime [Evidence Code section 956]) to avoid incriminating himself and admitting to violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Hoffman's behavior is the precise sort that gives attorneys bad reputations. And now you want to make him a judge? It seems that if your motives were as pure as you claim, you would be trying to prevent Hoffman from donning the robe rather than enabling him to abuse another trusted position in the community.

  • ShaunMay 22, 2012 - 10:23 am

    Meanwhile, Jones' statements are just plain wrong. The majority of the Sacramento attorneys who have endorsed Stracener either worked with him or worked for the opposing side during his 20 years of litigation experience. These are people who have taken the time to get to know him, understand his character, and respect him for the smart, hard-working qualities he brings to the bench. These are people with no reason to support him other than because they personally know and believe in his work ethic and integrity. The vast majority of these attorneys do not practice in El Dorado County and would likely never appear in his courtroom. Hoffman's publicist should re-evaluate his sources.

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 11:01 am

    Well Shaun, the guy without the balls to identify himself. Your credibility is in as much question as Stracener's by shielding yourself behind what's most likely a phony name anyways. Lets start with who I support for judge, hmm, nobody. No money given, no endorsements given etc. I have attended both Hoffmans, and Valentines fund raisers. (one each I believe) Due to lack of local support Stracener hasn't had any. You may not think Stracener lies, but he certainly doesn't tell the truth. And if he is so well respected down in Sacramento, why doesn't he trundle on back down the hill where he's wanted? Here's a question for you Shaun, if Stracener is unwanted by his own co-workers, clerks, persecutors, defense attorney's, DA, and other judges here in El Dorado County why does he want to be here? Could it be because he thinks he's "Entitled"? Grow a pair, use your name, otherwise your just as fictitious as Straceners qualifications.

  • livnuplifMay 22, 2012 - 11:42 am

    Unfortunately Warren Stracener, as a judicial candidate, has certain obligations and rules that he must follow when running for office which are listed in the Judicial Code of Ethics. Stracener should know these rules. If not it bolsters the claims of incompetence and lack of qualifications. In regards to his statements of appearing before the US Supreme Court they are misleading, which is a violation of the Judicial Code of Ethics Canon 5B(2). As a judge he has no excuse not to know this rule. The Canon states "A Candidate for election or appointment to judicial office shall not … (2) knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or any other fact concerning the candidate or his or her opponent.” He obviously violated this Canon. Heck, he admits that most people would assume that appearing before means making an actual appearance. There is just no way to deny that Warren was misleading the public about his qualifications. And unfortunately this is not his only misleading statement he has made, as he has been caught greatly embellishing his case load by over 1,300 cases and has even violated confidential cases by revealing facts about one of his juvenile cases. All of this bolsters the fact that he is just a bureaucratic politician and not a qualified Judicial candidate.

  • Sierra MomMay 22, 2012 - 11:45 am

    The unfortunate reality for Stracener is that those who know him best as a judge (his own court clerk, law enforcement, and almost every attorney unfortunate enough to have to appear in his court) all support Hoffman.

  • Intetested readerMay 22, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    Reading through all these comments, how can you possibly come to the conclusion that he 'obviously mispresented' his qualifications when his statements are supported by a Court Rule? Seems to me that would make the statements accurate. Sounds like he's not the candidate we should be so worried to trust...

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    Ahh how refreshing, another anonymous author. Which court rule would you be referring to? If you state you have "appeared before" the intention is to have the reader believe you have have done something you have not. That's not only dis-honest, but misleading. Would be really be comfortable with Stracener the dis-honest judge sitting in judgment of you?

  • helputoseethetruthMay 24, 2012 - 10:59 am

    Damn...you are really a jerk! What ever happened to showing others the "best side of oneself"? Hoffman began throwing stones 3 months ago when his team created that "FALSE and MISLEADING" negative website on Judge Stracener - an attempt to assinate hos character. Sorry guys......all the investigating and sending private investigators to follow the judge and his family will not help you out this time. You just keep repeating the same beef on Stracener........shame, shame. It is politics and views like yours that just makes me sick!

  • Intetested readerMay 22, 2012 - 3:06 pm

    One of the previous comments said the Rules of the Supreme Court consider filing a brief as making an appearance. If the rule says that, wouldn't you agree that this is not a misreprentation? And why all the harrassment on anonymous comments that seem to support your viewpoint but not against EDHMother, Sierra Mom, or livnuplif? Anonymous comments are ok when you like them but not when you don't?

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    I don't condone anonymous comments from anyone, however its hard to criticize the authors you point out when they make valid and reasonable assessments.

  • Intetested readerMay 22, 2012 - 4:15 pm

    I didn't find Shaun's comments unreasonable and I don't think my comment wad unreasonable either. Like Joel, I'm just trying to make an informed decision. Also, you missed the second half of my question: if the rule exists wouldn't Stracener's comments be accurate?

  • J MillerMay 22, 2012 - 3:11 pm

    Chuck I'm trying to pick whom to vote for. I have read all the above and it appears that your dog in this fight is Hoffman. As a bailsbondsman, I assume that google search is you, explain, if you can why Hoffman would be better. I'm not set on voting for Stracener, but was put off deciding by the following story: The case of a fugitive jailed in Sacramento on federal fraud charges this week may have ramifications in the June 5 race for El Dorado Superior Court judge. Daniel Chartraw, now held without bail on the fraud charges, was once represented by candidate Joseph A. Hoffman in another matter, and some observers question whether Hoffman acted properly on Chartraw's behalf. I know that not every attorney representing some scumbag is a bad man. So enlighten me and your guy could get my vote. Thanks Joel

  • Chuck HollandMay 22, 2012 - 5:19 pm

    @Joel, I really dont have a dog in the fight, I'm not supporting any one candidate as much as I'm opposing Stacener. Its important to realize the acts of a desperate campaign. The Stracener campaign will do or say anything to win evidenced by his misleading statements on his web site, his ballot statement, mailers, etc. When appearing before Stracener he expects you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He fails to follow that philosophy. Either of the other two candidates would be would be a vast improvement over what we are currently stuck with.

  • helputoseethetruthMay 24, 2012 - 11:22 am

    You said it right there Chuck! So why would Hoffman's team create a negative website to trick voters looking for good information to see everthing all twisted? Desperate words from a desperate man - Hoffman clearly does not have the integrity and honor to fight-the-good-fight. I have been to a few candidate forums and Hoffman seems to repeat what the negative website points out....too coincidental for me! I think Valentine is a good guy, but I am sticking with Judge Stracener.

  • J MillerMay 23, 2012 - 6:49 am

    Thanks Chuck

  • M. DixonMay 23, 2012 - 9:44 am

    Stracener's one accomplishment was working as Arnold's attack dog on state employees over the furloughs, a gigantic waste of tax dollars that even Moonbeam isn't stupid enough to do, at least yet. Then Arnold appoints him as judge in a position created by Arnold as in big political favor, so he has never faced the voters until now and he is looking at having to go into private practice soon which must really scare a long time govt. employee. There are two better choices in this race for judge.

  • helputoseethetruthMay 24, 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Matters....cases - the point is, Stracener has the experience. Valentine and Hoffman cannot compare. My hope is all candidates conduct themselves as gentlemen and show their good qualities... not show everyone they are running their campaign like a High School campaign for class president! Grow up guys!

  • Pamela FitzgeraldDecember 16, 2014 - 12:32 pm

    My personal experience in this judge's courtroom where my mother was having a conservatorship review last May was that he totally ignored her statements and wishes. He is biased and crooked in my opinion and treated my mother like dirt. He wouldn't listen to her even though she stated about five times that she did not want Eldorado County Public Guardian to be her conservator but wanted her daughter to conserve her. I had filed a petition for conservatorship and asked that Eldorado Public Guardian be removed (they neglect my mother and are very nasty to family who point out their lack of care). He just basically threw it out for no reason. He is as crooked, in my opinion, as they come. That whole bunch up there in Eldorado County, the Public Defender's office (who did nothing at any of my mom's hearings for her), the Public Guardian and this judge are all a bunch of rats eating off of the same piece of cheese!



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