Election 2014: Judicial candidates face off at forum | SierraSun.com

Election 2014: Judicial candidates face off at forum

Liz Kellar
lkellar@theunion.com

Candidates for Nevada County Superior Court Judge Anna Ferguson, left, and Robert Tice-Raskin square off during the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County forum last Thursday evening.

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson and federal prosecutor Rob Tice-Raskin, who will face off for the seat being vacated by Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling on Nov. 4, answered questions at a lightly attended League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County forum Thursday night.

Both touted their extensive legal experience as they pitched themselves as the best candidate for judge.

"I'm ready to make hard decisions," said Ferguson, who cited more than 100 jury trials under her belt. She told the audience her core values revolve around honesty, hard work, shopping locally, and environmental concerns.

Tice-Raskin emphasized his 25 years of experience, including the fact that he has served as a judge pro tem in Nevada County, handling civil cases, for the last seven years.

He also pointed to his support by nearly 40 judicial officers, including the current and retired judges in the county.

When asked whether it was important to have a good relationship with the current sitting judges, Ferguson suggested a dissenting voice could be a good thing.

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"Working together is essential," she said, adding that she sits on the board of the law library and already has a professional relationship with the current judges.

But, she said, "I plan to bring fresh ideas and an independent voice. They all seem to very much agree and have a certain platform – but it would be even better to have some other ideas and a unique perspective."

Tice-Raskin, however, said it was "absolutely essential there be a good fit between a new member and current members of bench," pointing to the fact there are only six judges in Nevada County. "… There's a very large caseload, they all have to work with each other and the staff to get the job done.

"I'm a fabulous team player," Tice-Raskin continued, pointing again to his endorsements as an indication the current judges "believe I would be a very good fit."

Both Tice-Raskin and Ferguson said they aspired to remain at the local level, and both agreed that the county courthouse should remain in its present location in downtown Nevada City.

The two also discussed the implementation of Laura's Law, how to address mental health issues, "quality of life" crimes, the death penalty, and elder abuse.

Some of the quirkier questions came from the media panelists.

KVMR's Paul Emery asked them to name their favorite Supreme Court justice.

Tice-Raskin named Anthony Kennedy, calling him a "consensus-builder and a moderate."

"You have to have a justice who will build bridges," he said.

Ferguson called the question so difficult as to be almost unfair, then said, "but I love it. It makes me think."

She picked Sonia Sotomayor as "a woman with a unique perspective, someone with fresh ideas, who doesn't fit the normal ideal of what we think justices look like … It's inspiring to see that women, women of color, of diverse backgrounds, can succeed."

"If you had the opportunity to write a new law for Nevada County, what might it address?" was the curve ball thrown by Paul Haas of KNCO.

"That is a little bit out of the box," responded Tice-Raskin. "The only thing I can think of, off the cuff, is that we are a community that is very active, with lots of bicyclists on road. I have a concern as an avid bicyclist … I would like to see new regulations to address the safety of bicyclists on the roads, to ensure they are not placed unnecessarily at risk."

"It seems like we have plenty of laws — I can't say I wish for more," Ferguson said. But if she had to pick one, she would craft one to "enforce the simple municipal codes that affect the community."

She cited the camping ordinance in Nevada City as one example, saying she worries about unattended fires started by transients.

Visit lwvwnc.org/ for more information on the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.