Equality is Missing from Justice
Alameda County residents have a rare opportunity to elect three new judges to the Superior Court in the June 6 primary. The existing court is far from representative of the County’s diverse population. Asians now comprise 30 percent of Alameda County residents but less than 10 percent of the current court is of Asian ancestry. (See Table 1.)
Typically, superior court judges are appointed by the governor, and voters rarely have a chance to impact the makeup of the court. Few incumbents are ever challenged when their terms are up for renewal. Under this appointment system and the long tenure of most judges, the California courts are predominantly male and white.
Since his current term began in 2011, Governor Jerry Brown has not appointed a single Asian American to the Alameda County Superior Court where criminal and civil cases impact the daily lives of the County’s nearly half a million APA residents. Out of the 7 seated judges of Asian ancestry, four were appointed by Republican governors and two by Gov. Gray Davis. One was able to win his seat in the 2006 election. (See Table 2 at bottom)
This year, three judges opted to retire at the end of their 6 year-term cycle, allowing voters a chance to select the candidates of their choice.
The Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus (APADC) of Alameda County membership has endorsed the following candidates for the three open seats: David Lim for Seat #1; Jennifer Madden for Seat #2; and Margaret Fujioka for Seat #14.
Seat #1: David Lim – has been an Alameda County Deputy District Attorney for the past 15 years including 10 years prosecuting real estate fraud, protecting homeowners from mortgage fraud and going after big banks that preyed on working class and immigrant home buyers. Since 2009, he has served as a part-time San Mateo city councilmember and Mayor (2013). Judicial candidates are not required to live within the county boundaries.
Seat #2: Jennifer Madden – is an Assistant District Attorney at the Alameda County District Attorney’s office where she has worked for 17 years. She helped develop and now heads up the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, which prosecutes traffickers, engages the entire community in identifying human trafficking and provides resources to victims of sexual exploitation. One-third of all sex trafficking involves minors. Madden is past president and life member of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
Seat #14: Margaret Fujioka – is currently an Administrative Hearing officer for Oakland and San Francisco. Her previous experience includes serving as an Oakland Deputy City Attorney. She has served on the Piedmont City Council since 2008 and is currently Piedmont’s Mayor. She has served as president of both the local and national Asian American Bar Associations (AABA). Ms. Fujioka is running unopposed but has been attending candidate forums and other opportunities to meet and learn from voters throughout the County.
Table 2. Current Alameda County Superior Court Justices of Asian/PI AncestryFor more information about the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus, go to: http://www.apacaucus.org
Serena Chen, APADC Vice President, Endorsement Committee Chair