Prosecutors, public defender running in primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles county

Three candidates—Fernanda Maria Barreto, Ryan Dibble, and Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes—are running in the nonpartisan primary for Office 67 of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election. While the race is officially nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels, all three candidates have been endorsed by at least one organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.

The Los Angeles Times‘ editorial board wrote, “For many years, the most successful judicial candidates were prosecutors, presumably because voters believed that they would … deal more harshly with criminal defendants,” but added that “[t]his year there are several deputy public defenders running, an interesting development that’s part of the broader movement for criminal justice reform.”

In the primary for Office 67, Barreto and Dibble both have prosecutorial experience, working as deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County. Lashley-Haynes is a deputy public defender in the county’s public defender office. All three candidates have highlighted their respective backgrounds.

Barreto said she “has worked tirelessly … to protect particularly vulnerable populations by handling complex felony cases including murder, rape, and domestic violence,” adding that she “has taken great pride in helping victims of crimes … while also building a reputation as being a fair prosecutor.”

Dibble highlighted his experience with roles in the Major Narcotics and Hardcore Gang Divisions, saying he “worked on cases to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community for whom violence and its consequences are so devastating.”

Lashley-Haynes said, “LA County courts have been dominated by those whose principal legal experiences have involved prosecuting offenders,” saying that her experience as a public defender “provides the kind of … perspective to begin to make Los Angeles the leader in criminal justice reform.”

All three candidates have received and promoted endorsements from individuals and organizations. The Los Angeles Times, the Burbank Police Officers’ Association, and 21 superior court judges in the county endorsed Barretto. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and 38 superior court judges in the county endorsed Dibble. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Union, and four superior court judges in the county endorsed Lashley-Haynes.

Judges on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County conduct all original trials in the county, except in cases where appellate level courts have original jurisdiction. According to the court’s website, “Cases range from simple traffic infractions to murders; landlord/tenant disputes to multi-million dollar lawsuits; guardianships to involuntary commitments.”