Michele Bell Seeks OC Superior Court Judge Seat 30
By Dianne Anderson
Less than a month away from the primary election and many voters aren’t paying attention to what’s in their mailbox, or maybe they don’t care – until it’s time for law and order.
Somehow voters miss the connection between who’s running down ballot, like Superior Court Judge, and the real life implications of the gavel.
Michele Bell currently sits as a Superior Court Commissioner assigned to the Criminal Division, where she makes daily decisions regarding bail for over 100 people on some of the most serious cases in the system, including gang crimes, sexual assault, and murder.
She believes all of those decisions require careful and deliberate analysis, and sensitivity to all involved. She said her top responsibility as a judge is to balance public safety against making sure every litigant receives fairness and their day in court.
Bell said she is honored to be the first Black and Latinx bench officer in Orange County, having cultural ties to both the Black and Latinx community is important.
“I am honored to be a face of the court and make decisions for our community. As a person of color and as a woman, I believe we need representation and diversity of backgrounds and experiences on the bench,” said Bell in an email.
Bell has served 14 years as an attorney and County Superior Court Commissioner, assigned to the Criminal Division at the Central Justice Center.
Especially now, she said that experiences and backgrounds need to be reflected everywhere, including community leadership, by elected officials and within the judiciary.
As a bench officer, Bell said her commitment is to treat all those that come before her fairly, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs. But, she wants the community to know that she understands different perspectives. Some, she has personally experienced.
Before serving as a Superior Court Commissioner, she worked as a Deputy Public Defender. She has received endorsements from over 50 Orange County judges and Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.
Prior to running for Seat #30, she had submitted an application for judicial appointment by the Governor, but while going through the process, her close friend and mentor, Judge Ospino, passed away.
“I was encouraged by members of the bench and legal community to run for his seat. Judge Ospino left an incredible legacy, having worked tirelessly for this County and its residents and he did so with compassion, humor, and great humility. It would be an honor to be elected to serve as a Judge in his seat,” she said.
Voters should have started receiving their Primary ballots in the mail starting May 9, which also opened in-person early voting at regional Registrar of Voters offices. May 23 is the last day to register to vote at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration.
The top two vote-getters for all elected offices will then go on to compete in the November election.
Eugene Fields, vice chair of the Black Democrats of Orange County, is not surprised at how few Blacks run for office in the county. His best estimate is that there is probably a handful, less than ten, represented on the city council, school boards, and community college district trustees.
But he stressed the personal responsibility to get out and vote is critical, and the community can do their part by learning more about the judges they elect. Often, the judicial information is not as easily accessed or as visible to the community as information on some of the higher-level city and county seats.
It tends to go far under the radar.
The community also doesn’t know much about the judge’s party affiliation from the ballot, but he said a vote for a superior court judge affects the community on many levels, probably even more so on a personal level than electing higher-level seats.
Fields, who is also on California Democratic Party Black Caucus executive board, emphasized that the judicial seat is important and that the primaries do matter. He said the community needs to vote up and down the ballot.
“If you are dealing with child custody or child support issues, you go to Superior Court, or if you want to fight a ticket, you have to go Superior court. Depending on who that judge is, or their disposition, that person can affect your life more directly than someone who’s a lawmaker at city county, or state level.”
To learn more about Michele Bell, see https://bellforjudge.com/
To learn more about the Black Democrats of Orange County, contact firstname.lastname@example.org