Sonoma County court docket commissioner and regional legal professional vie for judge seat in scarce election

For the initial time in more than a decade, Sonoma County voters are poised to fill a pair of open up seats on the Outstanding Court bench.

Local defense lawyer John LemMon and Court docket Commissioner Laura Passaglia McCarthy are vying for 1 of the two Excellent Court docket posts in the June election.

The other race attributes Joseph Passalacqua, a defense lawyer, and Oscar Pardo, a civil litigator.

The county’s final election to fill a seat on the county’s excellent court docket bench was in 2010, according to Sonoma County Registrar of Voters Deva Proto.

A judge’s race typically only reaches the ballot when a emptiness coincides with the common election, Proto claimed. Exceptional Courtroom judges, who can also be appointed by the governor, provide 6-yr terms and should then run for reelection.

On Monday, Passaglia McCarthy, 42, and LemMon, 58, sat down for separate interviews with a reporter and users of the Push Democrat’s Editorial Board.

“The courts are your bastion. They belong to us as a neighborhood,” Passaglia McCarthy reported, addressing why the race is essential for voters. “It’s the bastion you hope you really don’t want, but when you require it you’d like it to be practical and skilled.”

LemMon, who life in Glen Ellen with his wife and two sons, touted his 33 years of working experience working towards legislation as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer.

In the early 1990’s LemMon spent a couple of many years doing work as a member of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s staff members and as a Deputy City Legal professional in Sonoma, ahead of starting off his personal observe and taking on civil and criminal defense situations.

LemMon also served as a non permanent choose for the Sonoma County bench from 1993 to 2011.

“I’ve been a protection attorney, I’ve been a civil plaintiff’s legal professional and a civil defendant’s lawyer. I have also accomplished administrative legislation,” stated LemMon. “So, I carry a breadth of experience to the place that my opponent does not deliver.”

In early 2014, LemMon was arrested for soliciting sex all through a prostitution sting carried out by Santa Rosa police. The sting involved a law enforcement detective posing as a fictional woman on an grownup web-site, police stated. The operation led to the arrest of 10 persons in addition to LemMon.

Afterwards that year LemMon concluded a diversion application for initially-time offenders and the charges ended up dismissed.

On Monday, LemMon asserted that he was harmless of illegally soliciting sex. He said he experienced made an appointment for a massage.

He reported the practical experience experienced “not jaded” him “no way or the other” with regards to the felony justice program.

He known as his arrest a “non-problem.”

“I was arrested, yes, I pleaded not guilty and that scenario was dismissed and that history was sealed,” LemMon explained. “And underneath the prison justice program of the United States of The usa a person is harmless until finally verified responsible, and I’m therefore innocent. I have performed nothing at all mistaken.”

Passaglia McCarthy mentioned LemMon’s arrest is a little something voters really should look at “when examining the excellent of his character or the degree of great judgment that he possesses.”

In October 2021, Passaglia McCarthy was sworn in as a Top-quality Court commissioner and in the months due to the fact has presided in excess of misdemeanor situations in the legal division.

She stated her expertise has created her self-confident in her skill to operate a courtroom and she has loved the transition from the function of prosecutor to commissioner wherever she is generating selections.

“Now I advocate for a thing very unique. I really do not advocate at all for a posture other than I advocate for the law, and the rule of law,” Passaglia McCarthy mentioned. “I advocate for fairness, that every person gets to be read, that everybody feels that they’ve been addressed with dignity and regard.”

Nevertheless her workload is concentrated on misdemeanor conditions, Passaglia McCarthy claimed her track record is in dealing with felony conditions.

About the system of her occupation, Passaglia McCarthy has specialized in prosecuting domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking scenarios, first in her 10 a long time as a deputy district lawyer in Alameda County and later on, in her do the job for the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Place of work.

“There are numerous judges who are not as snug in the earth of felonies. That’s not their preferential position to be” stated Passaglia McCarthy. “Because I have the tool-set and the awareness for it, I want to supply to sit there and I can be helpful there, frankly.”

Passaglia McCarthy added that she would also “revel” in presiding over civil instances and “digging” much more into that facet of the regulation.

Passaglia McCarthy, who was born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Sonoma County with her partner and their daughter in 2017. Irrespective of the wildfires, floods and pandemic, Passaglia McCarthy said the transfer was the “best determination.”

“It was type of a resilient time to be listed here, I imagine,” stated Passaglia McCarthy. “A superior introduction to resilience in Sonoma County.”

Equally LemMon and Passaglia McCarthy earlier utilized for a judicial appointment via the governor’s office environment but saw the latest vacancy on the bench as an option.

LemMon ran unsuccessfully for election to the bench in 2000 and 2010.

Election Working day in Sonoma County is June 7. Ballots are established to be mailed to registered voters the second 7 days of Might.

You can reach Workers Author Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or [email protected]. On Twitter @MurphReports.