In response to poor ratings by the Ventura County Bar Association's Judicial Evaluations Committee as to his qualifications to be judge, Attorney Bradley Bjelke who is running against Judge Harry Walsh wrote:
"I made the decision not to participate in the evaluation because I want to be elected by the people--not a committee of individuals who have no accountability. It should also be noted that one of the members of this supposed "independent" committee openly and publicly endorses my opponent. That alone discredits the entire evaluation."
"I graduated from a top law school, worked for one of the largest law firms in the United States, and I represent sophisticated clients in complex matters and litigation. The ratings that this committee gave me are not based on any facts and they are irresponsible and absurd. I am confident that the voters in Ventura County will see through this nonsense and realize that this is just an attempt to discredit me to maintain the status quo. If you want to change the way the current process works, you will vote for me and bring new life to the bench."
The committee recently concluded that Walsh is exceptionally well-qualified; Bjelke is not qualified to be on the bench.
The Bar's 13-member judicial Evaluations Committee who rated the qualifications of Walsh and Bjelke fired back on Friday, saying that Bjelke was invited on numerous occasions to participate in the judicial review process but declined to do so.
"Mr. Bjelke also alleges that the support of one member of the Committee of his opponent "discredits the entire evaluation." Again, Mr. Bjelke is incorrect. When this allegation surfaced shortly after the evaluations were released, the Committee's Vice Chair investigated it and concluded that it was unfounded. The Committee member in question had been asked to endorse Judge Walsh. He did not intend to do so. However, a supporter of Judge Walsh placed the Committee member's name on the list of endorsers in error. The Committee member participated in the evaluation process not ever knowing of the mistake or that his name appeared as an endorser of Judge Walsh. Once the error was brought to the Committee member's attention, he promptly asked that his name be removed from the list of endorsers."
"What is particularly irresponsible about the timing of Mr. Bjelke's allegation is that, under the rules, he had a right to bring the situation to the attention of the Committee and to ask that the member not participate in either or both evaluations. Mr. Bjelke chose to do nothing. Had he acted in accordance with the rules, the mistake would have been corrected sooner. Had he done so, based upon past experience, it also is most likely that the member voluntarily would have withdrawn from the process."
"Accordingly, while the Committee regrets the error and is disappointed that Mr. Bjelke did not raise the issue sooner, the Committee also continues to stand by the independence and integrity of its investigation and its evaluation of Mr. Bjelke." -- Joel Mark, Vice Chair Ventura County Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee