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EDITORIAL: For Family Court, Departments L, M and N

The Review-Journal editorial board offers the following endorsements in this fall’s elections for Family Court, Departments L, M and N.

Department L incumbent Judge Jennifer Elliott is seeking re-election to a third term. She is being challenged by Paul “Mitch” Gaudet, who has practiced law for 22 years and has experience as a juvenile hearing officer, truancy hearing officer, small claims officer and arbitrator. In last year’s Review-Journal Judicial Performance Evaluation, 61 percent of participating attorneys said Judge Elliott should be retained, a weak score for someone with almost 12 years on the bench. As recently as 2010, Judge Elliott had a retention score of 70 percent. She has worked hard to create and improve specialty courts for mothers who abuse methamphetamines and veterans, but her decision to hire a suspended personal injury attorney as a law clerk in 2011 reflected poorly on her judgment. Judge Elliott’s survey scores are headed in the wrong direction. Mr. Gaudet can do better. The Review-Journal endorses Paul “Mitch” Gaudet in Department L.

In Department M, incumbent Judge William Potter, who has been on the bench since 2006, is being challenged by James Stuart. In last year’s Review-Journal survey, 59 percent of attorneys said Judge Potter should be retained. That below-average score appears to be rooted in dissatisfaction with his personality — 50 percent of attorneys said Judge Potter is less than adequate in being courteous. When it comes to running an efficient courtroom and properly applying the law, fortunately, Judge Potter rates much better. Mr. Stuart declined to meet with the Review-Journal to discuss his candidacy, which, like much of his career, is all but invisible. The Review-Journal endorses Judge William Potter in Department M.

In Department N, incumbent Judge Mathew Harter is seeking re-election to a second term. He is being challenged by Monti Levy. In last year’s Review-Journal survey, 71 percent of attorneys said Judge Harter should be retained, but his supporting performance scores were higher. Just 9 percent of attorneys said he was less than adequate in issuing orders, judgments, decrees or opinions without unnecessary delay. Ms. Levy has practiced law for 11 years, but much of her experience is in criminal and civil courts. Family Court needs judges with deep family law experience. Voters have no reason to replace Judge Harter. The Review-Journal endorses Judge Mathew Harter in Department N.

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