Latvian judge loses Los Angeles reelection bid

In the first time in two decades that she has been challenged, a Latvia-born judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court has lost her bid for reelection.

Dzintra I. Janavs, a judge for the past 20 years, lost her reelection bid during California’s June 6 gubernatorial primary vote.

With all precincts reporting, preliminary election results compiled by Los Angeles County officials show challenger Lynn Diane Olson receiving 325,537 votes (53.99 percent) to Janavs’ 277,387 votes (46.01 percent).

Janavs’ loss came despite strong endorsements from newspapers, politicians, lawyers and the Republican Party of Los Angeles County. Olson, a Los Angeles area lawyer, counted among her endorsements one from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a daily newspaper covering the Los Angeles judicial system, endorsed Janavs for reelection and questioned Olson’s motives for running against the incumbent.

“The conclusion is inescapable that she is running against Janavs for one reason alone: an assumption that voters will avoid casting ballots for a candidate with an odd, foreign-sounding name,” the newspaper said in an April 7 editorial.

The paper conceded that Janavs has a reputation for sometimes being “testy,” especially if lawyers don’t understand her because of her accent. But otherwise the newspaper found her well qualified for the job.

Janavs left Latvia as a child during World War II and in 1950 immigrated with her family to the United States. She joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1962. In 1986, she was appointed to the Superior Court by former Gov. George Deukmejian.

The Los Angeles Times also endorsed Janavs for reelection.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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