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Judicial Candidate Kennedy Seeks to Dethrone 'Establishmentarian'

Criminal attorney Michael Kennedy is contesting Superior Court Judge James "Jim" Cox in the June 5 election. Voters countywide will elect the winner to a six-year term.

A 25-year Inland Empire defense attorney said seeing judges "playing games" and treating the public unfairly prompted him to challenge a longtime Riverside County probate judge, a man who said he stands by his record as a jurist and insisted he is only interested in fairly "applying the law."

Criminal attorney Michael Kennedy of Joshua Tree is contesting Superior Court Judge James "Jim" Cox of Indian Wells in the June 5 election.

Kennedy, married with two adult children, has been working as a defense lawyer since the mid-1980s, specializing over the past decade in driving-under- the-influence cases. Cox, also married with two children and grandchildren, was appointed to the county bench by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1996, and since 2004 has served as the county's supervising probate judge, working out of Palm Springs.

Voters countywide will determine the winner of the judicial race. Whichever candidate prevails will serve a six-year term.

"Somebody says 'judge' and people go, 'Oh, ah -- God's gift to intellectual precision,"' Kennedy told City News Service. "But many judges are political hacks who got there because of who they know or from going to the right cocktail parties. Some are smart and some are stupid. I've seen them pick on the unrepresented public. But these guys forget that the public is in charge. They are public servants. The public is the master."

Kennedy, who describes himself as a constitutionalist or "originalist" when it comes to interpreting the law, said he is distressed by judges who fail to realize they're "umpires" and not advocates for the government. He pointed to an encounter with Cox in the late 1990s as an example.

According to Kennedy, he had received a traffic citation and his arraignment for the infraction was in a Banning courtroom where Cox was filling in for a traffic court commissioner. The attorney said he was "aghast" when he witnessed Cox allegedly tell the defendants lined up before him that if they pled guilty, they would receive reduced fines, but if they pled not guilty, they would have to post bail before they would be granted a trial.

Kennedy said he told the judge to "stop playing games" with him, citing a constitutional requirement that a person be deemed a "flight risk" before imposing bail. He said Cox pushed his case to the bottom of the pile and then dismissed it after the other defendants' cases had been disposed and they had left the courtroom.

Cox told CNS that his opponent's allegations "make absolutely no sense."

"I think Mr. Kennedy's made this up in order to garner support," the judge said. "It's probably no coincidence that he raises this issue more than 10 years after the fact, when the records are no longer available."

Cox said whenever he presided in traffic cases, he adhered to the state's bail schedule, and he denied ever threatening to withhold someone's right to a trial.

The judge also stated that he used his discretion to reduce bail and "many, many times" exempted defendants from paying anything when they could prove financial hardship.

According to Kennedy, he has heard from fellow attorneys that Cox will "play favorites" in his courtroom, allowing some lawyers representing clients in probate cases to charge higher fees, while disfavored attorneys' fees are halved.

"Nobody can go on the record and complain because if you do -- there go your fees," Kennedy said.

Cox replied that his opponent has probably been talking to attorneys whose fees have been chopped because the judge believed they were exorbitant or unjustified.

"A probate judge is known as a super-fiduciary. When an attorney is not doing his or her job, such as filing reports on their accounts, then the super-fiduciary orders them to appear and explain," Cox said. "If they try to charge in response to orders to appear, then, yes, I'll reduce their fees for that. It's the conservatee's money. That old man or that old lady has to pay from whatever funds they have for a conservator (to take care of their affairs.) It's the duty of a judge to review fee requests."

Cox said his nearly 16 years as a jurist have been unblemished.

"I do my job and follow the law," the judge said. "The job of the trier of fact is listening to both sides and applying the law."

He said his endorsements from every sitting county judge, as well as the Riverside County Deputy District Attorneys' Association, speak to his credibility and performance.

Kennedy highlighted Cox's endorsements as evidence of his being a political insider.

"Establishmentarians will always side with whoever's part of the establishment," the attorney said. "We used to have the finest judiciary in the world 30 years ago. But it has diminished. The only way to regain it is by being a part of the solution. That's why I'm in this race."

Kennedy's and attorney Aissa Wayne, one of actor John Wayne's four daughters.

—City News Service

John Fallis May 26, 2012 at 04:36 AM
I presented my case. I submitted pages of facts and evidence and testimony, regarding mothers continued false allegation against me, my wife and my step daughters which has been continuous for the past 7 years.Cox’s eyes invisible and discriminated against, Every time I try to talk or explain myself I got told to be quiet,” sir be quiet” ,while the attorney can ramble on and on. I feel railroaded. Cox, immediately after closing statements made his ruling “ I believe that the stipulation between the parties meant they would go back to 50/50 timeshare that is what I will order” Wasn’t Cox supposed to weigh the evidence, be impartial, patient, and first and foremost base his decision on California family code 3020 “what is in the best interest of the child?” I requested mediation, mental health evaluation of mother, evaluation of child and he only ordered child back into counseling since mother had been blocking it. There was a recent CPS case of mother intrusion of child during private bathroom time and forcing him to wear rubber gloves believing it was unsanitary to wipe. Cox reply to this “ Sir are you trying to make me believe that wearing gloves is bad? “ I guess he now practices child psychology and thinks that behavior is ok for a parent. Cox refused to read the CPS findings. After his ruling I said “I would like to just say that you failed the child” Cox replied “ If you don’t be quiet I will put you in chains" John Fallis
Dump Liberals May 26, 2012 at 05:15 AM
In all levels of Government. IT'S TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE AND DUMP ALL THE INCUMBENTS that are doing nothing but lining their pockets. America needs people that care about this country, not themselves first, it's laws, it's communities and the tax paying Americans that are suffering under these current Politicians and Judges. We need good Conservative Americans that will support, fight and defend our Constitution, defend our religious rights and the morals of this country foundation. There are three great Judges that should be Voted in Michael Kennedy, John Henry and Richard Nixon. For Congress we must replace that 20 year Incumbent Calvert and if you ever hear Clay Thibodeau speak you will agree. He is a Conservatuve Constitutionalist, Constitutional Author, not a Politian. New blood that knows his stuff and how to correct the problems facing us due to the current people in Government. IT'S CRITICAL TO CLEAN HOUSE GET OUT AND VOTE OUT THE PROBLEMS.
Michael Kennedy May 27, 2012 at 05:44 AM
"The judge ... stated that he used his discretion to reduce bail and 'many, many times' exempted defendants from paying anything when they could prove financial hardship." Hello!!! That is a confession that he imposed "bail" on people as a condition of their obtaining a trial! Now, does he not know the Constitution's command, doe he purposely flout the Constitution's command, or does he think that if he double-speaks enough on the subject the voting public will be flummoxed into believing that his patent constitutional violations are not violations? Understand this: regardless of what state rules, statutes, or local practices are in play, the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits setting bail unless one is a flight risk, period, end of issue. And, no, I have not made this up, nor anything else: my soul has to last longer than any job, and I will not lose mine to obtain or keep any job, a standard clearly not embraced by all in public service. How would I know court files are cleansed 10 years after the event, if that is the judge's story here - the system uses court records against my clients for a lot longer than 10 years after their convictions! My positions are clear, as is my conscience, and my scholarship, neutrality, courage, and constitutional precision are second to none. Vote Kennedy for Office 2 of the Superior Court, and you will have no regrets. Do otherwise, and all Constitution loving people shall have great regrets. www.kennedyforjudge.com
Diana Serafin June 01, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Michael Kennedy is truly a constitutionalist, honest and dedicated person. I have spoken with him, questioned him and heard him speak several times. He answers the questions directly and constitutionaly. This gentleman will make a great judge! We need more people like him in our government. Please vote for Kennnedy for Judge!
JSF June 05, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Are you really so fired up about the 8th amendment or still frothing over bailing yourself out after a drunken night of debauchery? James Cox is an upstanding member of the community, and one of the most professional and logical individuals around. He's endorsed by all 58 Riverside Superior Court judges. He respects the constitution, but does not hide behind it or use it to fool anyone into believing he's a better man. No, his qualifications and experience clearly show him to be the better man.

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