Douglas prosecutor challenges Alpine County judge

Alpine County Superior Court Judge David DeVore is facing a challenge from Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Karen Dustman in the upcoming election.

DeVore, 63, was appointed to the bench in 2001 and won a contested election in 2002.

In Alpine County, local races are resolved during the June primary unless there are more than two candidates for a seat and no one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

Dustman, 55, is being backed by former presiding Judge Harold Bradford, who served for a dozen years before DeVore took over.

Dustman worked for the Alpine County District Attorney's Office from 2003-06. She graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, and has practiced in both California and Nevada. Dustman is the author of a number of professional legal articles, and has taught as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola School of Law.

DeVore has been an attorney in the area since 1997 when he was running the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office branch at Lake Tahoe.

"I worked closely with Alpine County prosecutors and judges then," he said.

He went into private practice in 1980 and continued to practice in front of Alpine County judges until he was appointed.

"In order to be appointed, I went through a rigorous screening process," he said. "I received the highest possible rating in the report to the governor."

If elected, Dustman, would become Alpine County's first female judge. Her goals for the bench include improving community access to the courts through regular community forums and greater outreach to the Bear Valley area.

She also hopes to implement a drug court program for Alpine County.

"I've seen firsthand in Douglas County the positive impact that a drug court program can offer. It's an option that I hope to make available when I'm on the Alpine County bench as well," Dustman said.

DeVore said he plans to continue the modernization of the court and its blending with the state's other 57 courts.

"The courts in California during the last several years have become more of a statewide branch of government," he said. "Before that there were essentially 58 stand-alone courts. Now we have greater requirements of uniformity and record-keeping. There has been a great deal of work to bring us up to current standards. It's a work in progress and there's more yet to be done."

DeVore said making the transition has almost entirely disengaged the courtroom from the county administration and shifted oversight to the state.

"For the Alpine County Superior Court this has meant that we have had some difficult times adjusting to the new and increased procedures and technology in virtually all aspects of our operations," he said.

Dustman said she has the endorsement of Alpine's other Superior Court Judge, Richard Specchio, as well as Bradford and Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini.

Dustman and her husband were married in Carson Valley in 1993 and purchased property in Alpine County in 1997. They helped design and build their home.

DeVore said he hopes his work with the court system will carry weight with the voters.

"I always thought hard work and good work was its own reward and that will be recognized, I hope that will carry the day here. I've worked very hard to modernize this court to reform it and bring it up to the requirements. I have high standards of professional conduct and a strong work ethic. We do serve the public, the courtroom is the people's justice."

Alpine Clerk Barbara Howard said there are 787 registered voters in Alpine County, though the number has been as high as 900.

She said 482 voters participated in the mail-in presidential primary in February.

"I'm hoping for a bigger turnout for the direct election," she said. "We are an all mail-in county and I pay the postage on all returned ballots."

Howard said she hopes to host a candidates night before the June 3 election.

This year, Alpine County's election will be decided in the primary.


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