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Judge is one of 8 seeking court slot in LA County.

An Iranian-American judge is one of eight candidates looking to replace a retiring judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court; if Mark Ameli is elected to the seat next month, he would be the third Iranian-American elected to a Superior Court judgeship in California.

A judicial candidate must win a majority of the vote in the non-partisan June 8 primary to avoid a runoffvote in November. In describing Ameli, the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Ameli is an accomplished civil litigator and would be a credit to the bench." But despite the positive words, the newspaper endorsed attorney Randy Hammock for the seat.

Ameli, 62, is running against Hammock, Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Chris Garcia, Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack, sole practitioner Elizabeth Moreno, Deputy District Attorney Edward J. Nison, mediator Kendall C. Reed and Hawthorne Assistant City Attorney Kim Smith.

Ameli campaigns on the theme that he is the sole candidate who has already been a judge.

Ameli's lengthy list of endorsements include Alex Ricciardulli, judge of the Superior Court, John Noguez, the mayor of Huntington Park, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club, the Mexican American Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Iranian American Political Action Committee, the connected PAC of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA).

Ameli was born in Shiraz but reared in Tehran, where he lived until he was 18 and went to the United States for his college education. The Iranian-American candidate received his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and then went on to the University of Southern California, where he received his master's in economics. He then got his law degree from the University of West Los Angeles and began practicing law in 1980.

Ameli has served as a judge pro tem on the Los Angeles Superior Court for more than 10 years. The Superior Court of the State of California also appointed him an arbitrator and mediator. Ameli is also the founding member and past president of the Iranian-American Lawyers Association and has served as chair of the Iranian-American Sheriff's Advisory Council

Ameli is married to Guity Javid, a founding partner of Spring Street Capital. They have three children--Chantelle, Negeen and Jonathan. Jonathan is studying medicine at University of Vermont.

The Iranian-American candidate's website does not mention his Iranian background, but he says the Iranian-American community could help him get elected and he urged fellow expats to participate in the American political process, but without just blindly supporting Iranian-American candidates.

Ameli told the Iran Times, "In order to have a strong and successful Iranian American community, we must participate in the political process. This means not only running for various offices but supporting those QUALIFIED Iranian-Americans who are running and voting. Once we show our unity and our numbers, we can demand that our Iranian-American causes should be met. In doing this, I am asking that our Iranian American community study my background on my website at and give me their financial support and their vote not only because I am an Iranian-American, but because I am qualified to become a judge of the Superior Court."

Ameli said there are more than 2 million voters in Los Angeles County so he will need support and votes from far beyond the Iranian-American community, but he hopes that Iranian-American backing will help him reach his campaign treasury goal of $500,000.

Ameli told PAAIA that he is running for the judgeship because of his experience as a judge and because of the long lineage of lawyers and judges within his own family. He said three decades of litigation and trial experience and 15 years of experience as a mediator and an arbitrator have prepared him.

"I was raised in a family of judges. Both my father and grandfather were judges. The meaning of judicial temperament, fairness, and compassion were instilled in me from a young age. I learned how to be tough on those who deserve the firm hand of justice and to be compassionate towards victims of crime. I have also learned how to be fair and unbiased, yet decisive to the parties in a dispute," Ameli said.

In California, the Superior Court is the main court with jurisdiction over both criminal and civil cases, plus family and juvenile law and even traffic cases.


Two other Iranian-Americans--both born in the United States of Iranian fathers and American mothers--already serve as Superior Court judges in California. In 2006 , Sheila Meskin Hanson was elected to the court in Orange County and Susan Etezadi to the court in San Mateo County.
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Title Annotation:Diaspora: Around the globe
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:May 7, 2010
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