Partner at five-lawyer civil firm in Mountain View
Born: Long Beach
Law School: Santa Clara University
Independent police auditor for city of San Jose
Born: Brownsville, Texas
Law School: Lincoln
SAN JOSE — One eschews politics, has spent his career in private practice, and stresses his experience in civil cases. The other boasts a long list of marquee endorsements, spent years in public service, and tells of pulling herself up by her own bootstraps.
There is plenty of contrast between the two candidates racing to fill the seat of outgoing Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Richard Turrone.
William Monahan has been practicing law with his partner, Richard Burriss, since he graduated law school in 1983. Their small firm specializes in representing small businesses and individuals in civil litigation and transactional work. A longtime Mountain View resident, Monahan’s campaign is relying on his North County reputation and connections.
Teresa Guerrero-Daley didn’t graduate law school until she was nearly 40. But San Jose’s independent police auditor has spent most of her working career in law enforcement, first as a crime prevention specialist for local police and then as a federal narcotics agent.
Born in Brownsville, Texas, and the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Guerrero-Daley moved with her family to California’s Central Valley when she was 12. She was married at 15 and had her first child at 16. As a 23-year-old mother of three in the midst of a divorce, Guerrero-Daley went back to school to earn her high school diploma and later a college degree.
After graduating, she was one of 65,000 applicants vying for 40 agent positions with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It was a shot in the dark,” Guerrero-Daley explained. “Up until that time, women had been systematically excluded from law enforcement.”
So in 1978, Guerrero-Daley became San Jose’s first female DEA agent. Drug dealers, the thinking went, didn’t expect a young woman just five feet tall to be an undercover cop.
She left the DEA in 1982 to work as an investigator for San Mateo’s conflicts program, which assigns representation of indigent defendants, and enrolled in law school at night. After graduating in 1991, she returned to the conflicts panel as a criminal defense attorney in private practice.
It was an easy career choice. “They were who I saw as my role models,” she said. “When you know you had an innocent client — but for the fact we were there, they would have been convicted and spent who knows how many years in prison.”
Guerrero-Daley was chosen in 1993 to be San Jose’s first independent police auditor, then a part-time job. In 1997, San Jose voters made the auditor job full time, and Guerrero-Daley has since helped other cities establish similar offices to investigate complaints and offer recommendations about police oversight.
The first test of the office’s independence came in 1996, Guerrero-Daley said, when she recommended that the city no longer allow the unregulated use of uniformed officers moonlighting as private security. “The officers were very angry. They had a demonstration in front of City Hall,” Guerrero-Daley said.
She stirred up more controversy that year by releasing statistics that tracked complaints against police by the ethnicity of the officers.
Guerrero-Daley said all those experiences make her a strong candidate. It’s important, she says, that “judges come from all walks of life; they all don’t just come straight from the district attorney’s office.”
Guerrero-Daley, who grew up in a bilingual household, explained how she once represented a poor Mexican family charged with animal abuse for tying a goat to a tree. The goat had been a traditional baptismal gift. Guerrero-Daley said she took photos of the family’s home, a converted greenhouse, and showed prosecutors that the family didn’t live much better than the goat.
Guerrero-Daley is endorsed by Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, former Police Chief William Lansdowne, eight of San Jose’s 10 city council members, and Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, San Jose’s representatives in Congress. Ten judges and commissioners back her campaign, and she won the endorsement of the Santa Clara County Bar Association.
Guerrero-Daley’s husband, a retired Hayward detective, was accused by Ala-meda prosecutors last year of framing a man for a rape that, DNA evidence later showed, his brother had committed. Guerrero-Daley declined to comment on her husband’s situation other than to say he denies the allega-tions.
As of the last campaign finance filing period, Guerrero-Daley has loaned her campaign more than $12,000, most of her $14,269 war chest.
A NEW DIRECTION
William Monahan came to Mountain View from Southern California when he was in the eighth grade. He’s still there today, practicing law, and now hopes to be elected a Santa Clara Superior Court judge in March.
Monahan said he decided to run for judge last fall while attending a police retirement dinner for Mountain View police officer William Crawford, whom Monahan had known since high school.
“There was table after table of people who he had helped in his career,” Monahan said. “Seeing the effect he had on the community, I said I’ve got to think about going this direction.”
At his five-attorney firm, Burriss & Monahan, Monahan said he’s focused on the litigation side, handling everything from breach of contract to trademark infringement in state and federal courts all over the Bay Area. He has also served as a judge pro tem for seven years and as an arbitrator for three.
Monahan says his 20 years of practicing law sets him apart from Guerrero-Daley.
“There’s two very different candidates running,” Monahan said. “What I see as my strength is that my whole [career] is dedicated to practicing law and litigation. She’s only been an attorney for 12 and a half years.”
Monahan even uses a chart on his campaign Web site to compare his experience to Guerrero-Daley’s.
He’s spent just $200 since November and said he has decided to spend less than $1,000 on the entire campaign. Monahan said he met with San Jose civil attorney William Priest, a two-time judicial candidate who spent more than $150,000, and decided to cap his spending.
He sees his low-budget effort as a plus. His slogan: “Vote for William J. Monahan. He has accepted no monetary contributions. He owes no favors.”
“Most of the money donated to a judge is from attorneys who will appear in front of you,” Monahan said. “There’s a real tension between the political process and what you want in a judge.”
Monahan said he’s avoiding slate mailers because he equates it with “buying an endorsement,” and says they are misleading.
Instead, he’s making his pitch at campaign forums. So far, his endorsements include his current and former law part-ners and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Charles Hayden, who lives in Mountain View.