Responding to a rare opportunity to run for an open spot on the judicial bench, five candidates are competing to succeed the retiring Robert Oliver as a Fresno County Superior Court judge.
The quality of the field is outstanding, thus complicating decisions for voters. But we are recommending two: Fresno County chief deputy district attorney Lisa Gamoian and law professor Rachel Hill.
We concede it's unusual to recommend more than one candidate in a nonpartisan race. However, it's highly likely that the June 3 primary will be followed by a run-off in November. Should there be a run-off, we will endorse a single candidate before voting begins for the November ballot.
Gamoian stands out because of her tremendous success as a homicide prosecutor, passion for crime victims and lifelong commitment to Fresno County.
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She is best known for her successful prosecution of mass murderer Marcus Wesson in 2005 and being named Prosecutor of the Year in 2006 by the California District Attorney's Association.
Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan has described Gamoian as "relentless in her pursuit of justice."
Besides prosecuting violent criminals in the DA's office, Gamoian teaches deputy DAs and police cadets throughout California and operates her late father's raisin farm in Selma.
The Hastings Law School graduate is highly motivated and holds herself to the strictest standards. We believe Gamoian would be a valuable addition to the Fresno County Superior Court bench and would work hard to fulfill her campaign promise of ending the "revolving door" of early release inmates at the jail.
Hill's extensive experience is an excellent foundation for becoming a judge.
She has practiced civil law, worked for more than 10 years in the Fresno County DA's office, defended indigent clients, represented law enforcement officers and agencies, and taught law. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School.
Among those endorsing Hill is retired U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger, who says that she "will make an outstanding judge and will be a credit to the interests of justice"
During her campaign, Hill has advocated for the establishment of more specialty courts such as one for handling certain crimes committed by veterans.
Oliver, who will retire in January, has set the bar high during his two decades as a judge. We urge you to vote for Gamoian or Hill as his successor.