A judge by any other name?





Contra Costa District Attorney candidate Mark Peterson is asking a court to bar his opponent’s use of the title “judge” from campaign materials and signs.

District Attorney candidate Dan O’Malley was a Superior Court judge for just shy of six years before he resigned his judicial position in order to pursue private practice, and ultimately, political office. In a recent press release, O’Malley identified himself as “Judge O’Malley,” followed by a disclaimer of “retired.” His Facebook name is “Judge O’Malley.”

Once a judge, always a judge?

O’Malley argues that he is a retired judge. California judges become eligible — or vested — for retirement benefits after serving five years, he said, although they collect a much smaller level than judges who sit for 20 or more years.

“This is a campaign strategy, a tactic to take up my time and money responding to lawsuits when I could be out making appearances and raising money,” O’Malley said. “If Peterson was so concerned about it, he should have brought it up months ago when we could have resolved in a timely manner.”

Peterson’s camp views the use of “judge” alone as misleading unless the candidate displays in the same font size the word of “retired” or “former.”

The timing is critical for O’Malley.

If he goes ahead and puts out signs and mailers that say “Judge O’Malley,” with a smaller disclaimer, and a judge rules against him, it will hurt his campaign. But if he waits until the case is resolved, he loses valuable time he needs to put his name before voters.

Vote-by-mail ballots start going out next Monday and it’s unclear when the courts will settle it. O’Malley’s wife is a Contra Costa Superior Court judge, which means the case will have to move out of the county.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    It’s bad enough that judges must stand for election in so many places. It is undignified for the title to appear in campaign materials. Of course, dignity was disposed of by most candidates years ago.

  • John W

    Wow! I have to agree with RR on everything he said. Excellent points.

  • REW

    Peterson is the candidate making the false claims in this race. He’s running an outsider throw-the-bums-out kind of campaign, even though he’s worked at the DA’s office for decades. Presumably if he wins in November the first thing he’ll have to do is throw himself out, based on the campaign he’s running. If the DA office is “troubled”, as the Times keeps saying it is, then Peterson is the problem, not the solution, logically.
    Peterson is also claiming, falsely, that he is being supported by the police in his race.In fact, preety-ner the entire law enforcement community opposes the Peterson candidacy. Amazingly,Peterson “outsider” campaign is all being paid for by wealthy plutocrats like Seeno,Hoffman, and Garaventa. I checked Peterson’s money statements and I couldn’t find any donors that were retiree’s, or teachers, or construction workers and so on. His donors are all plutocrats, it’s just amazing. I mean Peterson is waging this “outsider” tea party like campaign, yet only plutocrats seem to be attending his tea party meetings. If you look at O’Malley’s money statements you will find real people, citizens, not just plutocrats. The contrast is just striking. Given all these things, I think the “controversy” over O’Malley utilizing Judge (ret) on his lit is not terrible important.

  • John W

    Am surprised more has not been made of the fact that O’Malley’s wife is presiding judge of the CCC superior court. I believe the responsibilities of the postion include assigning cases to the various judges. Seems like there could be some sticky appearance of conflict situations with her husband as DA.

  • Needs A Honest DA

    O’malley is trying to publish himself with the title to cover Jo for the rape case scandal. CAn George Bush still refers himself to President George Bush. O’malley needs to use his current title: Ptivate Defendse Attorney. He is full of it, first he uses his wife ti endorse him and now this…Mark Peterson was the Mayor for Concord, so should Peterson refers himself as Mayor Mark Peterson…

  • Needs A Honest DA

    The whole O’malley family has connections and is connected, dad, sister, wife,staff worked or works under one big happy family. Don’t you think it’s about time for sonny to start out by himself?

  • Djundrcover

    Another trick by O’Malley to stray voters away the shameful fact he is a criminal defense attorney who IS getting criminals out of jail as we speak. Why is O’Malley so ashamed of telling voters he is a defense attorney? I suspect it is because we don’t want a dishonest defense attorney at the DA’s office. Oh, and his other stunt, “managing law partner”. I’m sorry, how many lawyers in that office. Three? Nice try Dan.

    Lets elect Mark Peterson. 25 years as a professional crime fighter.

  • Elwood

    Re: #7

    What section of the PC covers being a defense attorney?

    You are a loony.

  • Djundrcover


    Section of PC? Penal code? What’s your point? For all our sake, please make an attempt to come up with a logical argument. Loony? Really. That’s all you got?

    I don’t think we are expecting much from an O’Malley supporter, but try a little harder next time.

  • Elwood

    “That’s all you got?”

    In your case, it’s obviously more than enough.

  • Djundrcover


    Put the bong down, walk upstairs from mom and dad’s basement, get some fresh air and let the marijuana haze settle, then try coming up with a logical argument. I’ll make it easy for you. Why do you think O’Malley is more qualified?

  • Your kidding me!

    Of course the Times display O’Malley wearing his robe!

    He is not a retired judge- He did not leave the bench because he was going to run for DA. He left to enter the world of private practice. (Nothing wrong with that) Santa Clara County DA Dolores Carr and San Diego County DA Bonnie Dumanis were judges when they ran for DA. The took a leave of absence to run. Dan left the bench because it was too contraining. You have to be there 5 days a week 8-5. Hard to get a round of golf in with those hours.

    As for his ballot statement- “Managing Partner” Interestingly enough, his partner Tom O’Connor testified recently that he Runckel and O’Malley are all Managing Partner’s. Next we will hear that Dan is Chief of the Victim’s of Domestic Violence Unit at the firm

    Mark Peterson is the right choice for DA- Whether some think it is petty to challange

  • Djundrcover

    The Times has made some disturbing endorsements this year, not at all surprising, but disappointing to say the least. I would hope they pull there O’Malley endorsement, or at least give a duel endorsement. O’Malley was a mad choice for them.

    Peterson is holding O’Malley accountable for his campaign actions, and I would think the citizens of this county would appreciate someone who can do that. Mark has played by the rules and the same should be expected from O’Malley.

  • Elwood

    When does O’Malley’s trial for being a defense attorney start?

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    To Your(sic) Kidding Me: I used a tightly cropped photo of O’Malley in his robes on my blog because that’s what is on O’Malley’s web site. Lisa v.

  • Djundrcover

    Lisa, you should have used a photo of Dan in something other than his robe. He is not a judge and that is the whole reason there is an issue with it. I know of many other photos of Dan from his websites, google and Facebook that could have been used.

    The reason I also have an issue with it also a result of the Times unfortunate endorsement of Dan and they way the Times has gone out of it’s way to portray Mark and build up Dan. I hope your newspaper would consider a dual endorsement, or drop O’Malley all together based on all these issues (Mis-statements, Roy Gordon, his shady connection to the Gresset case…etc). Just my two cents. I thought Dan looked particularly bad in the recent debate and seems to be falling apart. Mark got 47 percent of the vote and would have won, had it not been for Elle. That should mean something to your newspaper.


  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Djundrcover: You’re right. I cropped the shot substantially tighter than the original version on O’Malley’s Web site in an effort to de-emphasize the robe but obviously, not enough. I have now cropped my Flikr account version (where we load the photos we post on our blogs) even tighter, where it just shows his face. As for the editorial board endorsement, I don’t sit on the editorial board and have no input or role into the endorsement process. I read the editorials in the newspaper at the same time you do. You should direct your criticisms of that decision to Dan Hatfield, the editorial page editor, at dhatfield @bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • John W

    I wouldn’t presume to advise a newspaper on who it should or shouldn’t endorse unless I thought the newspaper had some hidden agenda or conflict of interest. But I have been curious to see whether the Times would revisit its prior endorsement of O’Malley. I thought the original endorsement was lukewarm, and that was before Peterson’s strong performance in first round. I cast my mail-in ballot for O’Malley before the Times endorsed, but changed my mind later based on some of the comments in the endorsement, Peterson’s showing in the election and the prospect of one too many O’Malley’s contemporaneously driving the East Bay justice system bus.

  • Djundrcover

    Thanks Lisa for the contact information. I appreciate it.

  • Elwood


    This just in!

    O’Malley is a defense attorney who defends people ACCUSED of crimes.

    Which, if you listen to one idiot posting on here, makes him guilty (of something) prima facie.

  • Needs A Honest DA

    Is O’malley ashamed of himself being a ” Private Defense Attorney” defending people “Accused” of crimes like “Roy Gordon”? Why does he not use use current title PROUDLY as “Private Defense Attorney”. O’malley says he left the bench to run to DA but he left bench in 2006 but his kickoff for DA was in 2009. Can O’malley tell me what has he been doing since he left bench in 2006. I remember seeing his website…”PRIVATE DEFENSE ATTORNEY… Time to tell the true, Omalley, a judge can’t represent Roy Gordon, right? Tell the true…we need a honest DA to lead the DA’s office…Please…

  • John W

    Hey, it’s October. If he wants to dress up as a judge for Halloween, it’s okay with me. He could have accomplished his purpose and avoided the noise by just calling himself “Attorney and former Superior Court Judge.”

  • Oscar F

    He was a Judge. Deal with it.
    Peterson is just dragging it through the courts to waste time and taxpayer money that I think would be better spent serving victims, no?

    And it really doesn’t surprise me that this place is full of Peterson people. He is a man devoid of morals, who skews white. It would make sense for the like-minded to be cellar-dwellers like you lot.