Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Nava holds on to Democratic Party endorsement in judicial race

Openly gay attorney Michael Nava remains the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate in an increasingly nasty judicial race on San Francisco’s fall ballot after local party officials rejected an effort to rescind their backing of Nava.

The local party’s nod is seen as critical since it is rare for its endorsed candidates to lose their races. It also means Nava will appear on its slate card mailed out to voters and can tap into the party’s pool of activists to help him with his get-out-the-vote efforts.

The celebrated crime novelist who works for state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno blocked sitting Judge Richard Ulmer from retaining his seat on the local bench in the June primary. Had it not been for a third candidate in the Primary race, openly gay lawyer Daniel Dean, Nava likely would have won the seat outright.

Because he fell short of the 50 plus 1 vote threshold needed to win, Nava is now in a contentious runoff race against Ulmer, a former registered Republican who was appointed to a seat on the San Francisco Superior Court last summer by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. After moving to the city Ulmer registered as a decline-to-state.

Yet he sought and received backing from the local Republican Party in the race. And after losing the primary fight, Ulmer and his supporters – including judges and high-powered attorneys – waged a relentless campaign to strip Nava of the Democratic Party’s endorsement.

Ulmer and his surrogates pressured members of the Democratic County Central Committee to reconsider their position in the race, arguing that it is a nonpartisan fight. Judges also phoned and wrote DCCC members, some on their court stationery, stating members of the bench should not have to face contested elections unless their behavior warrants their removal.

Under California law, all judges must go before the voters to hold on to their positions in what are known as retention races.

Due to two DCCC members – Bill Fazio and Carole Migden, an out lesbian and former lawmaker – the body met Wednesday, August 11 to reconsider its backing of Nava.

Migden said she requested the item be calendered because she was not a DCCC member when it made the endorsement – she won a seat on the committee in the June Primary – and has long opposed seeing judges be challenged for their seats.

“My longstanding view is judges doing a good job I don’t want to unseat them,” said Migden, who received hisses from the standing-room-only crowd. “I am not always inclined to remove Republican judges just because they are a Republican judge.”

Fazio, however, told the DCCC he had changed his mind and intended to vote against reconsidering the endorsement, saying he agreed with the arguments that the court needs more openly gay and Latino judges.

One of the strongest defenders of the Nava endorsement was Supervisor David Campos, who had Nava stand up in the audience, to which he received rousing applause. Campos, who is openly gay and a lawyer himself, told Migden and Fazio that they should have run for the DCCC in 2008 so that they would have had a say in the judicial race endorsements this past spring.

He also lambasted the judges and lawyers who sought to have the endorsement of Nava rescinded, calling their actions “shameful.”

“I would simply submit to these judges why are these judges spending time trying to take the endorsement away from a highly qualified Latino candidate?” asked Campos.

He had earlier stated that Nava “has not done anything but act admirably with a lot of class in the face of incredible adversity.”

Local Democratic Party Chair Aaron Peskin, himself a lawyer and former supervisor, said he found it “rather disturbing” that Ulmer’s backers were using a double standard and only going after the Democrats’ endorsement of Nava.

“The incumbent judge has gone to a political party, in this case the Republican Party, and sought and obtained their endorsement. It seems to be rather hypocritical for members of the court to say that this body … it is not okay for the other candidate to seek this body’s endorsement,” said Peskin.

In the end Migden was the only DCCC member to vote for reconsidering Nava’s endorsement.

— Matthew S. Bajko, August 12, 2010 @ 9:39 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gov, AG file motions against Prop 8 stay

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown this afternoon both filed motions in federal court opposing a stay of Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban.

In a landmark ruling Wednesday, Walker said that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. However, shortly after the decision was handed down, a temporary stay was also issued, preventing same-sex couples – at least for now – from obtaining marriage licenses. The defendants in the case,, filed the motion for a stay while Walker’s decision is appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The governor’s motion was extraordinary.

“The administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California,” wrote Kenneth C. Mennemeier, an attorney representing Schwarzenegger, in the brief. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect.”

Equality California praised Brown’s motion, saying there is no valid reason to deny a loving same-sex couple the freedom to marry.

“With the state of California opposing a stay, there is no justification for not resuming marriages for same-sex couples immediately,” EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors said in a statement.

Brown (pictured at right), the Democratic candidate for California governor this year, also refused to defend Prop 8 in the federal trial that Walker held earlier this year.

It is unclear when Walker will rule on the stay. However, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting tweeted Friday that City Hall will open this weekend if the judge lifts the stay.

“Waiting for Judge Walker’s decision on stay,” Ting wrote on Twitter. “If stay is lifted, SF City Hall will be open Fri til 8pm and Sat -Sun 9-5.”

— Cynthia Laird, August 6, 2010 @ 3:51 pm PST
Filed under: News

Breaking: SF police seek info in stabbing death

San Francisco police are seeking help in the investigation of the apparent murder of Philip DiMartino (pictured at right), 36.

Asked to confirm whether DiMartino was gay, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said, “Well, yes, he was known to frequent bars in the Castro, so we believe he was a member of the LGBT community.”

DiMartino appears to have been stabbed to death. His body was found Monday, August 2 in his apartment in the 100 block of Hermann Street, according to police.

Police are asking anyone with information about DiMartino or the case to contact the homicide unit at (415) 553-1145, the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 4, 2010 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Judge rules against Prop 8

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

However, Walker has also ordered a stay, at least temporarily, meaning same-sex couples won’t automatically be allowed to get legally married in California.

In his ruling, released today [Wednesday, August 4], Walker declared plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger “have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8.”

He continued, “California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result …”

Proponents of the same-sex marriage ban, passed by 52 percent of California voters in November 2008, will likely appeal the decision. The case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

To view the ruling, go to

The Bay Area Reporter will continue to provide updates on the ruling.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:50 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Prop 8 ruling coming out Wednesday

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker will issue his decision on whether Prop 8 violates the constitution on Wednesday, August 4, a court spokeswoman said today in an e-mail blast.

Lynn Fuller, the spokeswoman, told the Bay Area Reporter she didn’t know what time the ruling on the state’s same-sex marriage ban, passe3d in November 2008, would be released.

The B.A.R. will have more details on the ruling in the case, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, as they become available.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 3, 2010 @ 4:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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