top of page

Editorial: Elect Boyarsky for Santa Clara County Superior Court judgeThe governor usually fills judicial openings, but the replacement of Vincent Chiarello will be decided by voters

It’s not often that voters get to pick a new jurist for one of Santa Clara County’s 77 Superior Court judgeships.


Usually, California judges, who must stand for election every six years, time their retirements midterm to allow the governor to appoint their successors. That allows the successor to later run for election to a full term with the advantage of incumbency and, consequently, the likelihood of no challenger.


But periodically a judge doesn’t play by the unwritten rules. This election cycle, one of them, Judge Vincent Chiarello, opted to wait out the clock, to delay his retirement long enough so that the choice of his replacement has been left to the voters, not the governor.

Three qualified candidates are campaigning in the March 5 election to replace Chiarello. One of them stands out above the rest. That’s Jay Boyarsky, who brings 30 years of experience in the District Attorney’s Office — the first 17 as a line prosecutor and supervising deputy district attorney, the last 13 as the person who manages the daily operations for an office of 655 employees, including 190 prosecutors.

Boyarsky is District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s top assistant. He’s the person who makes the office run. A graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, he understands the law, the court system and how to manage caseloads. He’s supported not only by prosecutors, but also by judges, police chiefs, police unions, a broad spectrum of elected officials and even criminal defense attorneys.


That last support, he says, is because he’s not a “true believer” who thinks police never make mistakes. As he considers whether cases should be prosecuted, he brings an open mind — the same sort of open mind that a judge must have on the bench.


Boyarsky faces two opponents, one from inside his office and one from outside.


Johnene Stebbins, a UC Davis law school graduate, has served in the same office as Boyarsky since 1998. And she has racked up a list of supporters that also includes judges, police unions and some elected officials.


Stebbins has been a deputy district attorney her entire career, having handled almost all the prosecutorial assignments except for homicide. She’s worked under three district attorneys: George Kennedy, Dolores Carr and Rosen. But she’s never been promoted.

Nicole Ford, also a UC Davis law school graduate, is in private practice. For the past 8 1/2 years, she has been a solo practitioner, specializing in family law and appearing most of the time in Santa Clara County Superior Court.


Evaluating candidates for Superior Court judge can be challenging for voters. The candidates are restricted by judicial ethics rules from engaging in political or campaign activity that could compromise their independence and impartiality on the bench.

So don’t look for broad pronouncements from any of the candidates. Rather, look at their records. They each bring solid experience. But none more so than Boyarsky.

bottom of page