San Bernardino prosecutor James Hosking defeated incumbent Judge Robert Lemkau last night, riding momentum from public outrage over one ruling Lemkau made.
Hosking won 66 percent of the vote.
The deputy district attorney hammered Lemkau over his decision not to grant a mother an emergency restraining order in a family law case in January. She had told the judge her son's father threatened to kill the baby and himself. Lemkau said there was insufficient evidence to grant the order. A week and a half later, the father shot his son and then himself.
Radio shows, the local paper, a vitriolic Lemkau Must Go website, and even a segment on Dr. Phil hashed out the tragedy and the judge’s ruling.
As recently as Monday, Lemkau, a career prosecutor appointed to the bench in 2007, was fending off what he called his challenger’s “one-topic smear campaign.”
"The outcome is tragic, and it has affected me deeply," Lemkau said in a press release sent out by his consultant firm. "The public needs to understand that I took the bench on January 21 only after I reviewed the file. I was very familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case. There had previously been a full evidentiary hearing in the matter, and two judges ruled within weeks of each other that the father was not a threat to the child. The couple also had made an amicable custody agreement on their own, in my court, a mere five weeks before."
Hosking ran an Internet-friendly and hands-on campaign. He kept in frequent touch with supporters on a Facebook page with 800-some fans, and his media-rich website lists a phone number he picks up himself.