Meet Mark Ameli: Iranian American Candidate for Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles County

Endorsed by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca

Los Angeles, October 15, 2009 – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian American (PAAIA) and its connected PAC, the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mark K. Ameli and discuss his campaign for Los Angles Superior Court Judge in next year’s election.  If successful, Ameli would become the first American of Iranian descent to be elected to the Superior Court in Los Angeles County.

Ameli holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California, both in Economics, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of West Los Angeles. 

Ameli has been a practicing attorney since 1980, concentrating in the areas of business and corporate transactions and litigation, personal injuries as a result of defective products, vehicular collisions, slip and fall and industrial accidents.

Since 1994, Ameli has served as a judge pro tem in the Los Angeles Superior Court.  He has also been appointed by the Superior Court of the State of California as an arbitrator and mediator in the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Program.  In 2005 his law firm started a mediation division under the name of Diversified Dispute Resolution. 

A strong believer in public service and community involvement, Ameli has represented many indigent clients on a pro bono basis, has volunteered his services to the court system as a mediator and arbitrator and judge pro tem free of charge. He is a founding member and past president of Iranian American Lawyers Association.  Ameli has served as the chairperson of the Iranian American Sheriff’s Advisory Council and is the past President and a member of the Board of Directors of Rancho Park Rotary Club.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern California Mediation Association.

Click here for more information on Mark Ameli’s campaign.

The following is a transcript of the interview with Mr. Ameli:

PAAIA/IAPAC: Why are you running for public office?

Ameli: Three decades of litigation and trial experience and fifteen years of experience as a mediator and an arbitrator have prepared me to serve as a judge of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.
I was raised in a family of judges. Both my father and grandfather were judges. The meaning of judicial temperament, fairness, and compassion were instilled in me from a young age. I learned how to be tough on those who deserve the firm hand of justice and to be compassionate towards victims of crime. I have also learned how to be fair and unbiased, yet decisive to the parties in a dispute.

As an officer of the court, I have always been committed to the highest ethical and professional standards. In my capacity as an arbitrator or a mediator, I have proved myself to be fair and unbiased. The fact that my colleagues have selected me to arbitrate or mediate hundreds of their cases is a testament to their trust and confidence in my capabilities and impartiality.

I believe that my long and dedicated service as a litigator, an arbitrator and a mediator, combined with my many years of community service, make me qualified to become the next Judge of the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles and I would like to continue my public service in that capacity.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are some of the challenges you believe your campaign committee must overcome to mount a successful run-off campaign?

Ameli: The major challenge of my campaign is to gain name recognition.  In order to accomplish this, I must raise sufficient funds and get endorsements from elected officials and reputable organizations and the media.  At this time I have approximately $290,000 in my campaign account.  At the same time, I have been able to get the endorsements of two members of the California State Assembly, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, among others.  I have also received the support and endorsement of LA Mediators.  I am working hard and meeting and greeting as many people as I can to win their support, confidence, endorsement and more importantly, their votes.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are the fundraising goals of your committee?

Ameli: Approximately $400-$500,000.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

Ameli: At this juncture we do not know who my opponent or opponents may be.  The nomination process will close in March of 2010.  At such time we will determine which open seat I will run for and who my opponent(s) will be.  As a general rule, a large number of the deputy district attorneys, and city attorneys run for judicial positions.  Their experience is generally limited to criminal prosecution.  My background and experience is varied and in different fields of civil law.  Additionally, I have extensive experience in arbitration, mediation and as judge pro tem.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What are some of the critical issues facing the Los Angeles County Superior Court?

Ameli: A large majority of superior court judges come from a criminal law background.  Presently, approximately 2.7 million civil cases are filed in the county of Los Angeles each year.  Therefore, judges who have no background in civil litigation handle a large number of these civil cases. This causes delay and waste of time in courtrooms.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What roles do you think Iranian Americans can play in your campaign and what do you expect from the community?

Ameli: We have a very large community of Iranian Americans in the Southern California region.  However, due to our failure to vote, our political power goes untapped.  I am hoping to get more Iranian Americans registered and encourage more of them to go to the polls.  Considering the fact that I will participate in a countywide election, I will need voters beyond the Iranian American community.  There are over 2 million voters in LA County and I will need a majority of them to vote for me.  I will, therefore, need funds to be able to effectively campaign among such voters.  I am hoping that my community would continue to support my efforts, as they have done to date, by contributing funds to my campaign to allow me to reach my goal of $500,000. 

PAAIA/IAPAC:  What role can organizations like PAAIA/IAPAC play in assisting your campaign?

Ameli: In this campaign like any other campaigns, I will need funds, endorsement and votes. PAAIA/IAPAC can help me with the funds as well as fundraising to allow me to reach my goals.  PAAIA may have access to some endorsements to which I do not.  I would appreciate any help that PAAIA can give me in securing such endorsements.  Additionally, I hope that PAAIA/IAPAC can publicize my campaign through its publications and announcements.

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