A fourth candidate — attorney Jeffrey A. Lake — has announced a run for Superior Court Judge in the upcoming June 3 election.
Lake joins Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson, federal prosecutor Robert Tice-Raskin and Superior Court Legal Research Attorney Angela L. Bradrick in the race for the vacancy that will be left by the retirement of Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling.
Lake, whose primary law practice is in San Diego, represented Americans for Safe Access Nevada County locally in its efforts to block the county’s controversial medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, which was enacted in 2012.
A Nevada County Superior Court judge issued a mixed ruling on the group’s request to block the emergency ordinance, agreeing that the county cannot enforce a de-facto ban on collectives, but refusing to grant an injunction against the entire ordinance.
Lake subsequently filed an amended complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming that the ordinance contains unlawful structural restrictions and prohibits collective cultivation and violates patients’ right to privacy.
The case was dismissed in June 2013 after the California Supreme Court decided in the City of Riverside v. The Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Collective that local jurisdictions have the right to regulate both cultivation and distribution via local land-use designations such as zoning ordinances.
Lake’s involvement in medical marijuana issues was highlighted in a blog post Friday by local attorney Barry Pruett, who called him a “one trick pony” and a “political marijuana activist from San Diego.”
“If people are concerned that just because I represent medical marijuana cases I would be biased, my response is that everyone should be judged fairly and afforded the opportunity for due process, including medical marijuana patients,” Lake said. “A judge should not be biased.”
But conversely, Lake said, each case needs to be determined on its own merits.
“There are no free passes,” he said. “No favoritism should be expected.”
Lake also noted that while he currently splits his practice between San Diego and Nevada County, he would move here full time if elected.
“I will be here an awful lot,” he said of the next six months. “I feel like a member of the community.”
He cited deep respect for Dowling as one reason he decided to run for his seat.
“I would like to continue his legacy,” Lake said. “I think this county needs a competent civil judge, and I think I’m the best candidate to fill that seat.”
Everyone who steps foot into a courtroom deserves fair and unbiased judges who believe in justice for all who appear before them, Lake said, adding that over the years, he has seen this firsthand in Dowling’s department.
“His decisions were always thoughtful, well reasoned and thorough regardless of the controversial nature of the issues,” he said.
If elected, Lake said he will work relentlessly to carry on Dowling’s legacy of high ethical standards, incredible preparation, professionalism and fairness for every case he adjudicates. Lake received a bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego in 1988 and earned his law degree from California Western School of Law in 1991. Since then, he has represented hundreds of corporate and individual clients in a diverse range of disputes arising from product liability and other tort-based actions, construction defects, real property transactions, contract disputes, business-related transactions, as well as medical marijuana matters ranging from collective operation, land use, municipal law and criminal defense.
Lake said he is looking forward to a hotly contested judicial race, as well as the possibility of a ballot initiative that would amend the marijuana cultivation ordinance.
“The people are going to have some good choices about the future of how this county will be run,” he said.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.