Meet the Candidate: Brian Lamb for Inyo County Superior Court Judge

March 2- We are reposting these stories to help people stay informed for Tuesday’s Election, in alphabetical order. Make sure to vote!

Judge Brian Lamb is going for his fourth six-year term as Inyo County’s Superior Court judge.

Lamb has been an Inyo County resident since 1996 when he accepted the position of
Deputy County Counsel. He joined the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District as District
Counsel a year later and served in that capacity until he ran for Superior Court Judge in 2002.

His case load consists primarily of criminal prosecutions, both bench and jury trials.
As the presiding judge, Lamb also deals with administrative supervision overseeing the
Court’s staff. He spoke highly of that staff during a phone interview, comparing the importance
of a helpful, respectful court employee dealing with the public to staffing in a doctor’s
office—in either case, the civilian would probably rather be anywhere else.

“Out of the area judges rave about our staff,” he said, explaining it’s not a case of “us
versus them” when dealing with the public. “These are our community members,” he said,
noting the strong possibility the Court’s personnel could run into those they serve outside the
court. That courtesy is a culture that has to be built and reinforced, he added.

A project Lamb would like to see to fruition is a courthouse in Bishop, a project that has
been on the back burner for years. “We had jury trials in Bishop for defendants not in custody,”
he said, “but it got too complicated.” One of those complications was jurors running into
defendants or witnesses in the hallways.

How does Lamb look at juvenile cases where his decision impacts both the public but
also can determine a young defendant’s path going forward? He explained he focuses on
rehabilitation. He cites the success of juvenile court decisions noting the County’s juvenile hall
is closed except for a couple of weekends a month. “The Courts and Probation provide the
support to get the defendants back on the straight and narrow,” he said.
But, there are times those young defendants need to be impressed with the seriousness
of their conduct. “Sometimes you’ve got just one shot to make an impression,” he explained.

Lamb tries to impose the least sentence he needs to get the attention of the offender, taking
public safety into consideration. “It’s not so much legal as it is parental,” he said. “Like a parent,
you have to make tough decisions. This isn’t something they teach in law school.

In July of last year, Lamb was admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance
for “failing to timely act in three cases and by signing two false salary affidavits.” The two
attorneys vying for Lamb’s seat cited that admonishment as a reason for running for the
position.

In response to a question as to what he has done in response to that admonishment, he
provided the following statement: “Now that I am presiding judge, I have adopted procedures
whereby the court’s chief executive officer prepares and distributes periodic written updates
that apprise the court’s judges of each case pending decision and the time for its timely
decision. This has effectively forestalled any reoccurrence of the lapses the Commission on
Judicial Performance addressed in its decision. Perhaps worth noting is that, while holding me
accountable for my lapses in the timely filing of judicial decisions, the CJP wrote ‘the
commission recognizes that Judge Lamb is a hard-working judge….”

 

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