Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Hoffman the best judge

By
From page A4 | October 31, 2012 | 13 Comments

“Stracener clearly is not among the El Dorado County insiders,” so said the Sacramento Bee in an editorial. Appointed judge, Warren Stracener, added that theme to his mailer, calling his challenger, Joseph Hoffman, “the hand-picked candidate of political insiders and the good old boy network.”

But the Bee’s “insider’ insinuation was made right after a comment about an “unexplained rift or personality conflict” with Judge Douglas Phimister.

Let’s be clear about two things: 1. Why the Mountain Democrat endorses Joseph Hoffman for judge, 2. Why Judge Phimister endorses Hoffman.

As to the first part, we knew neither candidate until our editorial board interviewed both, though Hoffman was apparently widely known in El Dorado Hills at least among those involved in youth sports. What we found during the interviews was that Stracener during the two days a week he works on juvenile cases works until 11 p.m. That struck us as showing a lack of efficiency. Certainly some people can get by on less sleep, but this kind of schedule leads to burnout and poor decision-making.

Judge Phimister, before he was elected to the bench, was, like Hoffman, a hardworking and productive judge pro tem. Since becoming a Superior Court judge he has built a reputation as a top-tier judge, who handled the Phillip and Nancy Garrido kidnappers case and the national media coverage with the utmost care and professionalism. Beyond that, he has a reputation for being the most efficient criminal arraignment judge in the county, while at the same time being ever alert to the rights of defendants.

Phimister came to us in the early spring because Stracener was exaggerating his juvenile caseload to a Tea Party meeting and to a Village Life reporter. Instead of thousands, as he asserted, there were 169 dependency cases and 45 amendments in 2011; and 272 juvenile delinquent cases and 498 amendments, but half of those were handled by Judge James Wagoner.

We understand why two local judges are reluctant to see a sitting judge replaced and have therefore endorsed the appointed judge. But we look to judges who are seasoned local veterans. They are endorsing Hoffman. Starting with Phimister, this group includes Judge Daniel Proud, and recently retired Judges Eddie Keller and Tom Smith, both of whom still hear cases. We also note that District Attorney Vern Pierson endorses Hoffman for judge. Pierson, by the way, saved the taxpayers a lot of money by getting the Garridos, who kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard and held hercaptive for 18 years, to agree to a plea deal of several hundred years in prison.

Stracener told the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County that appointments are made to avoid “parochialism.” Parochialism, apparently, is all the juvenile bar —  both defense attorneys and prosecutors — endorsing Hoffman. And that includes Stracener’s clerk.

Judicial inefficiency is not the only reason for us to not support a judge appointed in the final several months of the Schwazenegger administration. In the June primary his ballot statement said he had appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet, he told the Democrat editorial board clearly that he had mailed in a petition. That statement is not appearing on the November ballot statement because a concerned citizen threatened to sue to have it removed.

And in sleazy mailers he continues to draw some connection between Hoffman, a client he is defending and that client’s trust account. Never having been in private practice, perhaps Stracener doesn’t know how trust accounts work. No. 1, they are registered with the State Bar. No. 2, they belong to the client. The attorney cannot even pay his fee or legal expenses from the account without the client’s permission.

And finally, there is the matter of Stracener exceeding the limitation on hours of unused personal time off, collecting it upon retirement from the state Department of Personnel. We’ll grant him the benefit of the doubt on this, since he was defending Schwarzenegger’s furloughs of state workers. Though going 20 years without a vacation is unhealthy. But we regard the collection of “arduous pay” of $1,200 monthly by Stracener and his legal cohorts at the state Personnel Department as just a sneaky lawyer gimic. Arduous pay was intended for firefighters and law enforcement personnel when responding to disaster situations. Making up for furlough cuts for a state lawyer being paid $138,000 is nowhere near the definition of “arduous.”

Chuck Holland, the person who got Stracener to stop writing that he appeared before the Supreme Court, summarized it best back in May: “Judges need to be above reproach. They make decisions on your life, your family, your property. There needs to be no doubt they are qualified, competent and honest.”

That describes Joseph Hoffman, our choice for Superior Court Judge — beyond reproach, qualified, competent, honest and experienced as a pro tem judge and also as a private judge. His fellow attorneys choose him to privately judge their cases and now they choose him as Superior Court Judge and so do we.

Mountain Democrat

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 13 comments

  • Ken SteersOctober 31, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    Stracener is not part of the Eldorado County insiders. But he is part of the California insiders. He is supported by wonks and kingmakers the likes of, Rico Oller, John Steltzmiller and Tom McClintock. He is also supported by Judge Steve Bailey. What do these 4 gentleman have in common? Dan Dellinger and Chris Alarcon. I told Stracener at the NRA dinner that he must not hire Dellinger for his campaign. He told me that he had him under control. That shows poor judgement. Ask yourself why did Rico twist the arms of the NRA? His buddy Dellinger. Why would a sitting congressman endorse a county judge race? His roomy Rico asked him to. Why is Bailey backing Stracener? He has long ties with Dellinger. Why is Steltzmiller even mentioned or used as an endorsement? For the life of me I don't know. Or Dellinger is his gofer at the CRA. Why am I involved in this race you might ask? Because I'm a boring person and need to buy my friends? Or the fact that I'm a terrible golfer. It could be both I guess...

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  • John HughesOctober 31, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    Big Spending Sleaze: In my opinion, the Mt. Democrat has called this race spot on. Stracener's strident opposition by his judicial colleagues sitting on the bench here on the West Slope of our county (i.e. Judges Proud, Phimister, Keller, and Smith)is nothing short of astounding, and speaks powerfully to the deficiencies of both his character and his competence. Can you imagine the atmosphere in judges meetings? And what does it say about Stracener's level of desparation that he has spent over $268,000 burying our community in his vile campaign sleaze, the vast majority of which was his own money? And all for a job with a salary of $178,789. It appears that Stracener is either public spirited in the extreme, OR planning to recoup his investment in ways other than his salary, as after taxes he would be working for years and years just to break even. Joseph Hoffman has mounted a powerful challenge, and I urge all sensible voters to join me in flushing the Stracener campaign's sleaze back down the slope were it came from. John Hughes Attorney, Placerville, CA

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  • Ken SteersOctober 31, 2012 - 5:52 pm

    I'm a terrible golfer. But a much better fly fisherman than John.

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  • 1036-FrankOctober 31, 2012 - 6:33 pm

    The bottom line is Hoffman is the one who fails the judge test for numerous documented reasons that all begin and end with his association with one Daniel Chartraw, the jailed con-man who was arrested in Mexico. Only the Sac Bee exposed this story which is a sad commentary on the local paper. Hoffman, the Folsom attorney, was associated with this con-man in ways that appear to be far from just representing a client. Hoffman wrote a letter saying the jailed con-man had in his possession a large quanity of precious metals, investors relied on this letter and lost their money it appears in court documents. It is the Good Ol' Boys of the county who endorse Hoffman and that alone calls for his defeat as does his involvement with Chartraw. Hoffman fails the character test here and should of removed himself from the election long ago.

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  • Ken SteersOctober 31, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    1036-frank or Larry. Your garbage slinging means so much coming from someone who won't use their real name. Stracener has lawyers backing him who have clients on death row. So what? Lawyers have clients who are criminals. The Bee did not, as you say, expose the story. The entire DA staff the MD as well as Judges Proud and Phimister looked into your allegations and said there was nothing there. So I'm asking to you now, are they willing to lie? I know you feel emboldened so I challenge you to reveal yourself and show your real evidence. Other wise be exposed for the coward and liar that you are. It is clear that the only person in this race that holds himself above the law and separate from his piers is Stracener. You Mr. 1036, have already stated that you condone his actions based on the presumptions that everyone does it. I don't believe that. I believe you think it's fine to embezzle money from the state while furloughing his fellow government workers. I find it repulsive.

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  • S SmithNovember 01, 2012 - 10:24 am

    Desperate words from a desperate campaign.....sorry Hoffman team - Judge Stracener get's my vote! It is not only for the fact that he has the light shinning on him with his client wrong-doing. He has been asked by the team parents to not coach girls soccer, he shows no sensitivity to questions about sensitive matters. Maybe he knows the law - but family law is clearly at the bottom of his favorites. We are looking for a judge to handle family and juvenile matters - maybe he willbe good at rushing them through - but PEOPLE OF EL DORADO COUNTY - if this were your family...would you want to be rushed through the system. Not I !!!!! Stracener has the experience as a judge, litigator, teacher, and a parent. He is respected in this community and is committed and dedicated to all of us in our county to have your fair day in court! Ask yourself...do you want another official hanging like the other hangtown puppets?

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  • Shaun SpillaneNovember 01, 2012 - 11:30 am

    Again, the Mountain Democrat gets it wrong. Stracener was in private practice before he worked for the State. In his two years in private practice, apparently he learned more about managing client trust accounts than Hoffman has in his 18 years of practice, because Judge Stracener knows that an attorney breaches his ethical obligations by permitting a client access and use of a client trust account. In Coppock v. State Bar (1988) 44 Cal.3d 665, an attorney was suspended from the practice of law for TWO YEARS for the same conduct Hoffman is accused of: Because the attorney designated the account his "clients trust account," he was responsible for the funds in that account, and it was a breach of his professional duties to give complete control of the account to the client." ... "Thus at various junctures in the course of the client's scheme, petitioner's failure to supervise his trust account facilitated and furthered the fraud." To all you so-called journalists out there (and the MD Editorial Board in particular), if you actually took the time to do the research and properly perform your job, you would know that this isn't a simple case of an attorney representing a crook.

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  • K johnstonNovember 01, 2012 - 5:02 pm

    Rumor has it the Hoffman attack dogs on these blogs are calling Stracener campaign supporters on the telephone. You guys are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Not to mention how many Stracener signs have been vandalized! Does not look good guys!shame...shame

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  • Ken SteersNovember 01, 2012 - 6:28 pm

    K Johnston, there are only 2 pro Hoffman supporters on this string. Everyone that knows John Hughes knows he's a cute puppy. So are you accusing me of calling Stracener campaign supporters and vandalizing campaign signs? besides being a bald faced lie, it is illegal. I have never been accused of doing something illegal in my life. It's strange that the first time this has happened is by an ally of a disgraced judge who has been proven to have broken the law himself. IRONY

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  • 1036-FrankNovember 01, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    " The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." This old ancient saying seems as valid then as now. Everyone, other than Hoffman, has spoke for Hoffman. Hoffman it appears doesn't want to address his association with Chartraw the jailed con-man. This campaign has many people thinking of the last Sheriff campaign, with Captain Corruption and Korrupt Kollar giving press conferences about their innocence and virtue and how the other candidate and now Sheriff was accidently followed and recored by their on-duty associates. Same for the federal lawsuit filed against them that is coming up. These Good Ol' Boys backing Hoffman should of learned a lesson then and hunted their holes to hide in, but they hope the voters don't remember who they backed then or now and try to pretend it never happened, it gets real old after awhile. Vote Hoffman and the Good Ol' Boys down the road and maybe they will get the message and if they don't a few more defeats should help the clean up the county needs.

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  • Miki NelsenNovember 02, 2012 - 9:08 am

    Stracener clearly is not among the El Dorado County insiders,” so said the Sacramento Bee in an editorial. Appointed judge, Warren Stracener, added that theme to his mailer, calling his challenger, Joseph Hoffman, “the hand-picked candidate of political insiders and the good old boy network.” The first paragraph of this article says it all. Has anyone taken the time to look at the "wonks and kingmakers in this county"? "Kingmaker" What a perfect word for the machine that is backing Hoffman.

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  • S SmithNovember 02, 2012 - 9:23 am

    There are some evil forces at work with the Hoffman campaign. Why do the prople that have endorsed him not realize what a creep he seems to be. I have spoken with him and watched him prance around in his cowboy boots as if he just returned from the gay pride rodeo! Adding a robe to that look will only make him look like a tranny - Dude....man up!

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  • S SmithNovember 02, 2012 - 9:57 am

    Don't get me wrong - I am no hater! I love everyone of God's creatures.....but you take the cake Joe! You get my vote for Hangtown Rodeo Queen 2012!

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