There are two SF Superior Court judge seats up for grabs in next month’s election, and a partisan group has been issuing report cards. These oddly leave out how one supposedly tough-on-crime candidate has a husband with a druggy past.

Does any SF voter even remember the last time they voted for an SF Superior Court judge? (Hint: It was March 3, 2020, though there were some state court judge seats on the November 2022 election ballot). California cities’ superior court judges are typically appointed by governors, and there’s only an election if they face a challenger. So SF Superior Court Judge elections end up being somewhat rare.


But in the wake SF DA Brooke Jenkins blaming judges for not detaining enough drug suspects, the issue has become politicized, and two SF Superior Court judges are facing challenges. As the Chronicle explained in their endorsements in these races, the incumbents faced a pretty rigorous vetting process, the challengers have not endured any similar vetting process.


These judicial elections have been roiled by so-called “judge reports cards” from a partisan nonprofit called Stop Crime Action — report cards which seem rigged to automatically assign “Fail” grades to the sitting judges facing elections. But a Mission Local report this month showed that Stop Crime Action’s report card comments for sitting judge Michael Begert were pulled from a grammatically challenged anonymous rant from 2015 on an informal Yelp-like judge rating site. Similarly, a Chronicle analysis found the report cards’ claims to be riddled with inaccuracies.

And oddly, one of the “tough-on-crime” challenger candidates, now-Deputy DA Jean Myungjin Roland, has faced criticism over a January SF Standard revelation that she didn’t report that her husband had been prosecuting cases against his own former drug dealers, a conflict of interest that may have explained their light sentences.

But let’s look past the mud, and examine who these judicial candidates are on your March 5 ballot.  

Images: (Left) JudgeBegert.com, (Right) UC Law San Francisco

MICHAEL ISAKU BEGERT vs. ALBERT “CHIP” ZECHER

Begert is a sitting SF Superior Court Judge who was appointed to the position by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. He’s held that seat since, and Gavin Newsom thought highly enough of Begert that he put Begert in charge of SF’s CARE Court system that can compel mentally ill people into treatment.

Zecher sits on the board of UC Law San Francisco, and also works as corporate counsel for a fiber topics firm called Intevac. The SF Standard reported last month that Zecher’s campaign received a $100,000 donation from Ripple Labs founder Chris Larsen, who’s responsible for those surveillance cameras all over town.

Begert, meanwhile, made a $100,000 loan to his own campaign.  

Images: (Left) courtesy Patrick Thomson, (Right) JeanForJudge.com

PATRICK THOMPSON vs. JEAN MYUNGJIN ROLAND

Thompson is also an incumbent sitting judge, appointed to the bench by Governor Newsom in 2022. Prior to that, the Harvard grad had worked at the prestigious corporate firms Perkins Coie LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Roland went straight to the SF DA’s office after graduating from the Boston University School of Law in 2000, and has served in several units in that department. She’s currently the Managing Attorney of the General Felony Trial Unit. Yes, she's the one who had the scandal-by-association with the husband prosecuting his own former drug dealers, and her knowledge of his drug use while he was in the DA's office, which is a personal matter from nearly 20 years ago. But if one of the sitting judges had that on their record, is there any question that the tough-on-crime groups would be going bananas over it?

Roland made a comment to the Standard about the issue last month saying, "I am not defined by the man who is with me," and adding that it would be "offensive" if she were judged by her husband's actions of two decades ago.

There was a debate between the four candidates back on December 7. For the candidates’ perspectives, you can read the Chronicle report, and the Bay Area Reporter also wrote it up.

The SF Bar Association has rated both of the sitting incumbent judges, Begert and Thompson, as “Well Qualified.” But according to the Chronicle, it did not assign ratings to Zecher and Roland, “because they had not responded” to the candidate questionnaires.

Related: DA and Others Like to Blame SF Judges For Setting Drug Dealers Free, But Have You Served on a Jury? [SFNews]

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews