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SLO County judge has been on the bench only 2 months. He already has to defend his seat

San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Hernaldo Baltodano was appointed to the bench in November. On Wednesday, San Luis Obispo Deputy District Attorney Andy Cadena filed papers to challenge Baltodano this year for his seat.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Hernaldo Baltodano was appointed to the bench in November. On Wednesday, San Luis Obispo Deputy District Attorney Andy Cadena filed papers to challenge Baltodano this year for his seat.

Only two months after taking the bench, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge will have to defend his seat from a senior prosecutor, who filed to run against him in an unusual move Wednesday.

The County Clerk’s Office said Deputy District Attorney Andy Cadena filed a declaration of intention to challenge Judge Hernaldo Baltodano, who was appointed by the Governor’s Office in November, in the June election.

Cadena did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Cadena’s filing is the latest in a series of recently announced judicial political campaigns, odd for San Luis Obispo County, where incumbent judges typically have run unopposed after their appointment. The last local judge to be elected to the bench by voters was Judge John Trice in 2002.

But this election year, a court commissioner and a San Luis Obispo defense attorney are vying for the last vacant bench in the Superior Court created by the retirement of Judge Barry LaBarbera. Six other judges — Baltodano, Jesse Marino, Craig van Rooyen, Charles Crandall, Tana Coates and Jacquelyn Duffy — are up for re-election and can be challenged by any 10-year member of the State Bar (or a previous judgeship) without a felony record involving misuse of public money.

Superior Court judges serve six-year terms, and those appointed to fill a vacancy caused by a retirement or death must run for re-election at the end of their predecessor’s former term.

The races for local judgeships are underway amid challenges to both District Attorney Dan Dow by a former judge and to Sheriff Ian Parkinson by a San Luis Obispo private investigator.

According to the State Bar, Cadena has practiced law since 1993 after earning his degree at UCLA School of Law. During his local career, he’s tried just a few cases to receive media publicity, but he has a reputation around the courthouse as a fair and hard-working prosecutor. He formerly served as the president of the San Luis Obispo County Government Attorney’s Union.

Baltodano, who was sworn in Dec. 11, 2017, was formerly a partner at San Luis Obispo-based employment law firm Baltodano and Baltodano LLP after working for various Los Angeles-area firms from 2003 to 2011.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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