Sat. May 25th, 2024

Opinion Piece by Donna Westfall – May 22, 2017 –

Calls of recall and resignation resound as a result of the wildly unpopular sentence Judge Follett gave Nolan Bruder (20 year old who drugged and raped his 16 year old sister). It became national news and put Crescent City on the map for another disaster having nothing to do with Tsunamis.

But it’s not just the Bruder case that makes me impatient to see Judge Follett leave the bench. I’ve watched him as Presiding Judge over the Grand Jury for most of the 10 years I’ve lived here.  I couldn’t understand why the Grand Jury seemed more like a Kangaroo Court than a panel of my peers who’s duty it is to uncover governmental complaints which oftentimes included allegations of corruption.

As Presiding Judge, Follett chose the grand jurors and the foreman.  One stooge after another walked goose step in line with the puppet master. Unfair interference claimed by some.  Manipulation claimed by others. One former juror stated he stopped the investigation into corruption into the $43.8 million Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), the insane amount of money spent by the City of Crescent City largely because there was no way the ratepayers could repay that loan amount.

Besides the Grand Jury, how does Follett perform in the court room.  Some say he fabricates his own legal premises, he’s vindictive and retaliatory, he favors his old partner’s Bob Cochran and Philip Schafer or any number of good old boys, refuses disqualifications, obstructs admissible evidence by denying due process of law, and has a record of drastically inconsistent sentencing.

Should he decide to resign, who would be appointed?

Should he decide not to run for re-election in 2018 who could toss their hat in the ring?

Here’s a partial list to consider:

Some attorney’s and law firms: Dohn Henion, George Mavris, Michael Riese, DeSolenni Law, Karen Olson, or Mike Skudstad.

Maybe someone from the District Attorney’s office would consider running:  Dale Trigg, Katherine Micks,  Anna-Marie Padillo, or Todd Zocchi.

Maybe someone currently employed by the County; Elizabeth Cable.

Or someone currently contracted by the City; Martha Rice.

And then there’s Chris Doehle, married name Westbrook.  She was formerly appointed by Gov. Brown, then rejected by the voters when she lost to Dareen McElfresh. Some of the problems I have with Doehle is that she and her husband were among those that lobbied hard for a lessor sentence for Chris Renner who was convicted of sexually abusing a child.

Last thoughts.  What is the criteria for someone to run for Judge?  Certainly there’s residential requirement, someone would have to live in the area for some period of time.  And, there’s probably a time requirement that a lawyer right out of law school is too inexperienced to run.  But that’s a discussion for another day.




19 thoughts on “When Judge Follett leaves (Thank God) who will run?”
  1. I just wanted to add to this discussion that there is actually no residency requirement for County Superior Court Judge, the only requirement is “a superior court judge must have been an attorney admitted to practice law in California or have served as a judge of a court of record in this state for at least 10 years immediately preceding election or appointment.”

    I have been involved in a number of judicial campaigns throughout the state and I’d be happy to answer any other questions about the process of electing Superior Court Judges in California.

  2. Donna Thank You for allowing each of your readers to express their opinions and thoughts. Freedom of Speech is Alive and Well here at the Crescent City Times!

  3. Donna, is there a “residential requirement” when running for the office of judge on the bench of the Del Norte County Superior Court? If so, therein lies the source of our inherent woes when considering new candidates. It may be time to think outside of the box. We hired a chief of police from Los Angeles. Why can’t we elect judges from out of this area as well? The fruit of my limited research on this matter suggest the governor can appoint county judges from and to anywhere within this state. I am absolutely not saying the governor should appoint except in extreme cases, but doesn’t that set a precedent? If the governor can appoint from outside this county, why can’t we elect from elsewhere? Surely some out of the area legal eagle would be delighted to come here and serve exclusively according to the letter of the law, without bias, or being just another cog in the wheel of any local good ole’ boy political machine, left, right, or center. I opine that voters lacking insider influence fear the present good ole’ boy system existing around here will likely just produce more of the same — “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.”

    I am not saying Judge Follett should or should not be replaced, that’s for the voters to decide. Informed voters know that the more hats thrown into the ring of any election generates a healthier, more robust, and comprehensive debate. As is the case everywhere, ideology and corruption can be found on both sides of the political aisle. Having said that, and not privy to all the actual facts only known by both the prosecution and defense in this particular case, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. I am also definitely not suggesting Judge Follett is guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever. There is always more to these decisions than meet the casual observer’s eye. Why can’t we recruit potential candidates for judge from so far away from here that they have zero allegiance to anyone in Del Norte County after being independently and thoroughly vetted? That might be a step in the direction of real change for any state, county, or city throughout these United States.

    It must be a horribly traumatic event to be raped by one’s own brother, and rape victims carry the emotional scars for the rest of their lives. She will need therapy, and a lot of it. Did the court ensure that therapy will be provided on a continuing basis? As a community, we desperately need to get a handle on all the rapes, assaults, burglaries, and other quality of life crimes we all see occurring everyday in Del Norte County. Not often enough do we see the perpetrators of those crimes held accountable for their reprehensible behavior in any real way. Too many of us feel the punishment usually does not fit the crime.

    Good night and good luck to you all.

  4. well those are interesting picks…I would not vote for any of those people in the District Attorney’s office….NONE

    Karen Olson is a great pick. She works her ass off. Has experience from working both sides of the fence, is reasonable and rational. I place her high on the list just as I did McElfresh.

    George Mavris would be a great pick, but George probably would not want to be judge right now ….

    Mike Riese is also very knowledgeable but because of his past, people may or may not vote for him…

    But, and although judge Follett is getting crucified for his judgement on the Bruder Case, in fairness, all the facts of the case were not disclosed by Dale Trigg. He wasn’t even in the court room. And, the Public is going by what the newspapers say or what Dale Trigg said. There was no trial. If the District Attorney office was as concerned as he states in his release statement, Dale Trigg would have been in the court room with a sentence that would have satisfied the DA Office. Think about that.

  5. In my humble opinion, perhaps your next presiding judge should follow the law sans personal bias. While justice with mercy is laudable, it did not happen here. The victim has been raped all over again. Judge Follett has undoubtedly caused unimaginable harm to this particular family and your community at large. It has been said that the judiciary is our last bastion of hope in troubling times.

    1. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmond Burke

    2. Is this Chris Howard by any chance? I recall sitting on the City Council and attending a Chamber mixer at Alber Seafood years ago, and Chris came over to me and said, “You should leave. You don’t belong here.” Seems very reminiscent of Chris Howard jargon….don’t you think?

    3. I find it interesting that you can make such a statement in this forum and it is published, yet if you were to try to find this kind of opportunity in the Triplicate, it would only occur if the Editor, Robin Fornoff, shared your opinion. He does by the way….

      Much of the reason that this forum was developed at great expense and cost of time to the editor, something she would no doubt be willing to be relieved of its burden, is because we don’t have a newspaper that is of any value except in the outhouse. Furthermore this community has a lengthy list of problems brought about by the people that are being exposed in these articles which will continue to fail to be addressed unless someone details the current train wrecks that are discussed in this e-paper.

      Sure it would be easy to pack up and move on, stop exposing corruption, and generally leave well enough alone, as long as you are also willing to see this community lose population, and economic motivators, dry up and wither away, to the point that living in Del Norte County becomes untenable. The environmentalist’s of the county would be overjoyed, that is until the money ran out and the environment would no longer have the funding to maintain it in pristine shape. But, hey you seem to have it under control with your stop complaining stance.

      Maybe the City’s boondoggle with the “White Elephant” sewer plant will magically solve itself, or the current “sit on our hands and wait for someone else to bail us out with Last Chance Grade”, Supervisors Cowan, Howard, and Hemmingsen. A sure path to successfully revitalizing Del Norte County. Perhaps under to guise of the leadership of Tedd Ward , let Del Norte Solid Waste continue to stumble through making Waste Disposal so expensive that only a few will be able to afford it. Then of course we should pour millions of dollars towards the badly managed County Airport or maybe even the Harbor Commission scrambling to avoid sinking under the debt of an ill advised Harbor make over. But hey! nothing to worry about, as long as all those who complain are given a free ticket out of town.

      It will be great to have a few more empty store fronts, more homes for sale, and less traffic on the roads. Don’t forget more stores looking like Safeway, with assorted vagrants and homeless adding to the decor. I can hardly wait for Hiway 299 to experience a massive slide, with Hiway 101 South falling into the ocean, then the perfect storm with a huge sinkhole on Hiway 101 North. But like you say shut up and stop complaining, better yet move out of town.

      You had your say, but I don’t see much in the way of problem solving, just your version of complaining….

      1. You forgot to mention all the stuff that went on at CPS, Cyrstal Markytan landed on her feet here in Lake County. I moved down here to get away from her, now her office is less than a mile away from me.

        Social Services
        Crystal Markytan, Director

        15975 Anderson Ranch Parkway
        PO Box 9000
        Lower Lake, CA 95457
        Phone: (707) 995-4200
        Email Us

        James Marmon MSW

        1. Her office is actually located in the middle of a swamp, go figure.

          The Anderson Marsh Park contains 1,065 acres (431 ha) of native bunch grass-covered hills, oak woodland, and Tule (Schoenoplectus acutus) marshes. It protects several habitats including: freshwater marsh wetlands, native grasslands, California oak woodlands, and riparian woodlands. Aquatic and terrestrial wildlife include: large mouth bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, the north-western pond turtle, bats, gray fox, frogs, garter snakes, mink, muskrats, opossums, raccoon, river otter, skunks, and toads.[5]

          Approximately 151 different bird species, both migrating and resident, have been identified in the park.[6]

          They have “Beware of Rattlesnake” signs all over the parking lot, really.

      1. You shouldn’t pick on Chris-Chip. He’s obviously much smarter than everyone else. Just ask him. But with a hint of snotty bitch while hiding behind anonymity like a coward-rhymes with _____________.

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