Everyone has friends who are in bands. But who hangs out with judges? Next week, original O.C. punk Joe Escalante (The Vandals, and more recently the Sweet and Tender Hooligans) is on the ballot to serve on the bench as Judge of the Superior Court for the City of Los Angeles. He’s a smart and realistic guy—and good friend–who wants to do it for the right reasons. It all started with a legal advice radio show that stemmed from his working in entertainment law, representing his own record label as well as working for CBS. I’m voting for him and if you’ve ever been to a show at the Cuckoo’s Nest, Perkin’s Palace, or Fender’s Ballroom (or even visited Club 33) you might want to support him, too.
MW: Is judging something you’ve always wanted to do? What do you like about it?
JE: I applied to become a Temporary Judge in 2008 to broaden the amount of stuff I can cover on my radio shows. I usually only give “showbiz” legal advice on the radio, but I thought for job security I should brush up on the kind of stuff that more people need like small claims, traffic, and landlord-tenant stuff.
After doing it for a few years I’ve started to like it more than all the other stuff I do. I am able to use my brain, help people, and help the county, and I’ve met a lot of great people who are judges, prosecutors, clerks, translators, defense attorneys, bailiffs, etc. (Not my world until then) And I think I’m good at it.
You can have fun on stage or recording music, but are you really helping people? Maybe, maybe not. And is your brain valued? Or is it your looks? Can you grow old gracefully in a band? You certainly can on the bench.
Traffic Court is often joked about as a punishment for low-level judges. I love traffic court. We’re in Southern California and it’s a car culture in a big way. The rules of the road are on everyone’s mind every day. To be the final arbiter of a traffic dispute is a big honor. I love being involved in it. Everyone wants to make a difference. I think I can on the bench.