Click here for Voice of OC’s full voter guide for the November 2022 election. And click here for an organized list of all our candidate surveys.

Judges are among the most powerful officials in Orange County, tasked with administering justice on everything from personal injury lawsuits to murder cases.

And they’re among the toughest offices for voters to pick from because there’s such little information about the people running.

This time around, there’s only one judge race on the ballot.

It’s between OC Superior Court Commissioner Michele Bell, and Deputy Attorney General Peggy Huang – who also is a Yorba Linda councilwoman and Republican former candidate for Congress.

Bell is endorsed by the county Democratic Party, while Huang is endorsed by the county Republican Party.

Voice of OC reporters reached out to both candidates and sent them a list of questions, several of which were submitted by readers in response to a public invitation for questions.

Candidates were allowed up to 350 characters per answer, to keep the total length reasonable. 

Below are the answers from the candidate who responded. They’re the exact text each candidate submitted in writing.

Click here for Voice of OC’s full voter guide for the November 2022 election. And click here for an organized list of all our candidate surveys.

What do you consider the most important responsibility of judges at Orange County Superior Court?

Michele Bell: “Making decisions and exercising judgment in matters that affect others is a critical responsibility as a bench officer.”

Peggy Huang: “Upholding the highest standards of fairness, integrity and justice in the courtroom.”

What are your takeaways from the Orange County jailhouse informants scandal and the appellate ruling and recent federal probe, which found systematic violations of constitutional rights by local prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies?

Bell: “As a bench officer now, I cannot comment on pending cases or controversies that impact our court system.”

Huang: “The canon of judicial ethics prohibits me from answering this question as cases resulting from this matter may come before me as a Judge.”

What do you consider the most significant challenge facing local courtrooms? And what if anything will you do to address it?

Bell: “Coming out of the pandemic, our courts are severely impacted. I will continue to work hard in my courtroom and volunteer to help other colleagues when I can.”

Huang: “The most serious challenge facing our Orange County courts is remedying the concerns of our communities about homelessness.  As a Deputy California Attorney General, I support the use of mental health courts to get addicts and mentally ill homeless persons off our streets and into effective treatment programs.”

What’s your biggest mistake and how did you address it?

Bell: “We all make mistakes, but being open-minded and learning is what is important.”

Huang: “Early in my career, I relied on some older arguments in a legal brief.  In court, I was questioned by the judge about some newer cases that were not included.  Since then, I have made sure to go the extra mile in viewing previous arguments through a more skeptical lens.”

What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Bell: “Our Court Administration makes every effort to communicate with stakeholders to further the administration of justice.”

Huang: “As a Judge, I will always strive to be open and transparent in the courtroom within the legal constraints protecting fairness and due process that all Judges must honor.”

What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Bell: “I will continue to abide by judicial ethics and cannons for Superior Court Judges and Commissioners.”

Huang: “Judges are not politicians or public policy makers.  Our conduct is governed by a Code Of Judicial Ethics.  As a judge, I will adhere strictly to that Code to ensure the highest standards of impartiality and fairness on the bench.”

Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Bell: “Our court system is for all residents of Orange County, regardless of their opinion on this issue. “

Huang: “The canon of judicial ethics prohibits me from answering this question as cases resulting from this matter may come before me as a Judge.”

Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Bell: “Our country is very divided on this issue. I am a dedicated public servant who treats everyone in my courtroom fairly, and with dignity and respect.”

Huang: “Yes, I will accept the results of the election as I have done during my two elections for Yorba Linda City Council.”

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

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Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

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