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SD Bar releases judicial candidate ratings

The San Diego County Bar Association released its judicial ratings for the June 3 primary election with three candidates receiving a "well-qualified" designation and three "lacking qualifications."

Eleven candidates, including four incumbent judges, are competing for five spots on the San Diego Superior Court bench.

Judge Michael J. Popkins, Judge Ronald S. Prager and Judge Lisa Schall all earned "well-qualified" ratings, which means they "possess professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament," according to the bar's Judicial Election Evaluation Committee.

The top rating also means the candidate has shown an "exceptional ability to perform the judicial function with a high degree of skill and effectiveness."

Business litigation attorney Joseph Adelizzi, assistant U.S. attorney Carla Keehn, incumbent Judge Jacqueline M. Stern, Department of Justice attorney Paul Ware and Deputy Attorney General Brad A. Weinreb were given "qualified" ratings.

The panel said that those who are “qualified” possess "professional ability, experience, competence, integrity and temperament indicating satisfactory ability to perform the judicial function."

Attorneys Douglas Crawford, Ken Gosselin and Michele Hagan were rated as "lacking qualifications." The rating committee gives that designation to candidates who are "lacking one or more of the essential abilities or skills to satisfactorily perform the judicial function."

The panel does not compare candidates in a particular race, or endorse or oppose the election of candidates, but evaluates each candidate on individual merit.

The committee’s process is similar to the one used by the state’s Judicial Nomination Evaluation Commission, which reviews and rates applicants who have submitted an application for a judicial appointment by the governor.

Crawford is running against Prager, a 25-year veteran of the bench, for Superior Court Office No. 9.

Crawford is facing a disciplinary action from the State Bar of California for allegedly threatening to report an opposing counsel's client to the Internal Revenue Service for under-reporting his income.

Crawford, who is appealing the decision, faces a 90-day suspension and two years’ probation. He told KPBS he did not make the threat, but his client did.

Gosselin and Hagan will face off against Weinreb in the only three-person race for Superior Court Office No. 25.

Popkins, who became a judge in 2013, is running against Ware for Office No. 19, while Keehn is opposing Schall, a 25-year judge, for Office No. 20.

Stern, who took the bench in 1998, and Adelizzi will meet in the Office No. 44 race.

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