Thursday Night Live With Judge Ellen Gay Conroy

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Tonight I will be interviewing Judge Gay Conroy who is running to stay a Superior Court Judge. The interview is just between the two of us but after it is over at 9 PM feel free to give me feedback on the questions I asked and her responses.

Ellen Gay Conroy,

Click on continue reading for your first question.

37 Comments

Ellen,

How did you first become a Judge?

I go by my middle name, Gay. I received an appointment from the Governor 22 months ago.

Prior tothe judicial appointment I was a Superior Court Commissioner for 2 1/2 years, doing the same judicial jobs.

Gay,

Who was your favorite professor in law school and how have they influenced you as a judge?

His name is David Harrell, currently a slerk for the local appelate court. He made the whole concept of constitutional law so clear. Those constitutional bases affect everything I do on the bench.

Sorry Brian,

I've never been interviewed on line before. Please excuse my spelling errors.

Gay,

Did the governor's office want to know or did they know what party you belong to when they nominated you?

Absolutely. That is the reason I was so pleased with the appointment. I am a Democrat but this Governor has crossed party lines many times in his judicial appointments. He was charged with diversity appointments and he did make many.

Remember that a judicial position, particularly at the trial court level, are non-partisan. I don't think party affiliation has much bearing.

Gay,

I know you aren't likely to discuss ongoing court cases but what closed case was the hardest for you either personally or as a judge?

Gay,

As you know President George W. Bush often ignored ABA ratings in making judicial appointments. How important do you think ABA ratings are in selecting judges?

Gay,

How does someone running for judge raise money for the campaign? What ethical considerations have you made in accepting donations?

I was a family law attorney in private practice and I am currently assigned to a family law court. Custody cases are definitely the hardest. The law provides that we must do what is in the best interests of children so there are no hard and fast rules. Much discretion is left to the judicial officer. So many custody cases are very difficult. However, I always tell the litigants that these are decisions they should be making. I don't know their children and I don't love their children. I am the default position. So when they can't agree, I have to make an order based on the evidence presented to me. I always hope that I have done the right thing. But there is always some doubt.

I never planned to be in this position. The ethical guidelines for judges allow for campaign contributions. It is realistically impossible to wage a campaign to keep your job without raising money. It is the responsibility of a judicial officer to rule on every case with impartiality. If you were to speak with attorneys who have contributed to my campaign you would find that they still sometimes win and sometimes lose in front of me. I believe I can still be impartial. Actually, this is one of the major problems with judicial elections. But raising money is a fact of life under the current law.


I missed the ABA question. Sorry. ABA rating do not come into play in state court elections. However, because we cannot talk about cases, issues or causes which might come before us, the only way the electorate can find out about Judges is by peer review. The average citizen knows nothing about me unless they have appears in my court. Therefore, in my case, local ratings by the bar association are very important. These are based on an extensive application, hundreds of questionarres sent to attorneys and judges, and an in depth interview. Although the ABA is not involved, the local bar association rated me as "exceptionally well qualified".

Gay,

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer? Are you a big Atticus Finch fan?

So Brian,

What do you think of my dog?

Am I that transparent? There is no one other than Atticus Finch. I still cry when I recall the scene in the courtroom when they say "stand up Scout, you father is passing".

Gay,

If you get a photo of a campaign sign and your dog I will put it on the front page and add your dog to the poll.

What would you do if a conspiracy theorist that believes Barack Obama was born in Kenya appeared in you courtroom? Besides discussing jurisdiction would you make it clear that the courts aren't to be used in such a frivolous manner?

I actually had this situation before. I had a gentleman in my court who felt that the CIA and the FBI had implanted something in his head and he was requesting a restraining order againt Pres. Bush and the CIA. I talked to him about the jurisdictional issues, but did not treat it as a frivolour matter. Many people appear in front of me with mental health issues and I will still treat them with dignity and respect while trying to convince them that they are in the wrong place. There is a very fine line with litigants who have such problems. Sometimes the bench officer is more social worker or psychologist in those instances.

Gay,

Would you accept the endorsement of a political party?

Gay,

Some argue that an issue like gay marriage should be made by voters. But others argue that fundamental rights are protected by the state and federal constitutions.

Should judges or voters choose what equal protection under the law means for gay families?

I would accept the endorsement of either, both or all parties. I do have endorsements of conservative, liberals, democrats, republicans. This position is a non-partisan position and whatever views I may have, I must set them aside and decide cases simply based on the facts and the law. I would hope that any political party would understand that my views on political issues have no bearing on how I conduct my courtroom.

Now you have entered into one of those areas where I cannot respond. Certainly, voters should have their voices heard, but ultimately the constitution rules. I have strong views on same sex marriages. However, I again have to set those aside. For a period I conducted same sex marriages, and then I didn't. Trial court judges must simply apply the law. It makes no difference whether I like the law or not.

Gay,

I know you must set aside your personal opinion on issues and follow the law.I also know there are many questions you cannot answer.

But I was asking a more philosophical question about the law. Ultimately, do you think judges or voters should determine how the constitution applies to fundamental rights?

I think that voters should express their opinion but under our system of checks and balances, I believe the hightest court should have the ultimate decision.

Gay,

If a juror knows a defendant broke the law but the juror doesn't support a law what rights do they have to acquit the defendant?

None. Any hopefully the attorneys would have discovered this bias before empanelling the juror. I am sure that there are many laws with which we do not agree. If you don't like the law, elect representatives who will change the law. However, in a criminal trial, the law must be applied. Again, the trial court are the drones of the legal system. We do not have the abillity to change the law, but simply to apply it.

Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice? Do you think President Obama chose wisely when he nominated Sonia Sotomayor? What about Elena Kagan?

Do you belong to any legal societies like the Federalist Society?

I am a Sandra Day O'Conner fan in that she was a moderate in her rulings. I believe that Sonia Sotomayor was a good choice. I Think it is important for the populace to feel that they are represented in the highest court. I do not know enough about Elena Kagan to comment on her nomination. When you consider the percentage of the population that has Hispanic roots, and that fact that probably the majority of our population is female, the choice of Sotomayor send a message to that population that they have a voice on the highest court.

I do not belong with any legal societies.

Again, I have never done IM stuff before. Please excuse my typos, etc.

Gay,


Don't worry, I often go back and fix my typos too.

Thanks for coming on my blog and taking my questions. I appreciate your time. Enjoy the last few weeks of the campaign. Also, send me a picture of your dog with a campaign sign and I will post it.


Thank you Brian. I cannot wait for this to be over. I have been fortunate to meet some spectatular people through this campaign, and I have discovered that I have a much larger circle of friends and supporters than I realized. I appreciate the opportunity to answer you questions this evening - I have never done this before but everything in life is a new experience. Thank you for your time.

Best, Gay Conroy

I'll send the photo tomorrow, Jackson is ready to show her stuff!

Again, best regards, this was fun!

Gay

Ms. Conroy is incompetent and an embarrassment to a true Gentlemen's Profession of Law. She does not belong on the bench. She is grossly biased and is incapable of judging. Incredulous that she is on the bench, however that is the low level of competency in any individual practicing law or judging in the backward county of Ventura, Ca. And incestuous corrupt band of imcompetence.

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  • Anthony Antonacci: Ms. Conroy is incompetent and an embarrassment to a true read more
  • Gay Conroy: I'll send the photo tomorrow, Jackson is ready to show read more
  • Gay Conroy: Thank you Brian. I cannot wait for this to be read more
  • Brian: Gay, Don't worry, I often go back and fix my read more
  • Gay Conroy: Again, I have never done IM stuff before. Please excuse read more
  • Gay Conroy: I do not belong with any legal societies. read more
  • Gay Conroy: I am a Sandra Day O'Conner fan in that she read more
  • Brian: Do you belong to any legal societies like the Federalist read more
  • Brian: Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice? Do you think read more
  • Gay Conroy: None. Any hopefully the attorneys would have discovered this bias read more