The list of candidates for Los Angeles County Superior Court on the June 3 ballot includes two named Matsumoto.
Alison Matsumoto Estrada is running for Office 76; Pamala F. Matsumoto is running for Office 22. Both are contested races.
Following are profiles of the candidates from their respective websites:
• As a 15-year veteran of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Alison Matsumoto Estrada has been committed to protecting the people of Los Angeles County. Throughout her career she has tried 70 felony jury trials, including special-circumstances murders.
While assigned to the District Attorney’s Family Violence Division, she prosecuted cases charging spousal abuse, physical child abuse and other domestic violence crimes. As a trial deputy assigned to the Central Felony Trials Unit and subsequently at the Pasadena Branch Office, she tried dozens of cases charging serious felony crimes involving complex legal issues. These crimes occurred in the communities of Downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, Hollywood, Northeast Los Angeles and Pasadena.
In her current assignment in the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division, Estrada prosecutes criminal misconduct by elected or appointed officials throughout the county.
In 2011, she was recognized for her work with victims of violent crime when she received the Victims of Crime Community Leadership Award. She was previously named Deputy District Attorney of the Month by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for her successful prosecution of two back-to-back murder trials in 2003.
One motivating factor in Estrada’s decision to become a lawyer was the detention of her maternal grandparents in a “relocation center” in Arizona during World War II. Through their participation as charter members of the Japanese American Citizens League in Indiana, her parents raised awareness about Japanese culture, the internment, tolerance and acceptance. They instilled in her a strong work ethic and taught her the importance of participation in her community.
Following her parents’ example, Estrada has maintained numerous community leadership positions. Currently, she is the Southern California regional president of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association (NAPIPA). In addition, she sits on the board of the Japanese American Bar Association, having been the president in 2011. She also presently serves on the State Bar of California’s Criminal Law Executive Committee.
Estrada attended UC San Diego and graduated cum laude with a degree in psychology. She earned her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. In her free time, she enjoys golfing with her husband Alfonso and spending time with family and friends. She hopes to continue to contribute to the community through the fair administration of justice by serving as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
Endorsers include: Janice Fukai, L.A. County alternate public defender; Luis Rodriguez, California State Bar president; William Fujioka, L.A. County chief executive officer; James Toma, West Covina councilmember; Michael Antonovich, L.A. County supervisor; Gilbert Wright, president of Black Prosecutors Los Angeles; Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); Joseph Cho, Cerritos councilmember; Jackie Lacey, L.A. County district attorney; Terry Hara, LAPD deputy chief; Steve Cooley, former district attorney.
Her opponent is Helen Kim, criminal prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, former president and board member of the Korean American Bar Association, former board member of Korean American Coalition, and former trustee of The Center for Early Education.
Born Pamala Yee, she is the daughter of a Chinese immigrant who taught himself English, became a city manager, and then later served as the mayor of South San Francisco. In 1991, she married Phillip Matsumoto, whose mother was interned during World War II. She watched and learned from the experiences of the prior generation, and from this rich family history comes her passion for justice.
The majority of her career has been spent in the public sector for Los Angeles County, starting out as a public defender, a state prosecutor, then her position as a Los Angeles Superior Court referee for juvenile court before the system was dismantled in the county, and finally in a judicial capacity as an administrative law judge. In her 26 years of legal experience, she has served in all the roles in a courtroom.
As a litigator, Matsumoto has participated in hundreds of cases as both a criminal and civil prosecutor and defense attorney. She has worked in the public sector as well as the private sector from three-strikes cases to Medi-Cal fraud cases. She has a special interest in protecting children, as her mission as a juvenile court referee was to find ways to rehabilitate youth.
Matsumoto also enjoys being active in her community. As a devoted mother to her son, Paul, and wife to her husband, Phil, she dedicates her free time volunteering for causes she feels strongly about or for her son’s many activities. In particular, she is an active volunteer guide for the Space Shuttle Endeavor, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, and a YMCA volunteer. Also, she is an active runner who loves to participate in local half-marathon races and, most notably, the Los Angeles Marathon.
According to her campaign, Matsumoto is well respected by her peers and the community for her exceptional legal qualifications and principled character, and her passion for equity, commitment to the integrity of the legal process, and diligent service to the judicial system make her an ideal candidate for Superior Court judge.
Endorsers include Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, 14 judges, L.A. County Democratic Party, California Court Commissioners Association, AFSCME 36 Local 575 (L.A. County Superior Court clerks and paralegals), Korean American Bar Association, actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”).
Her opponent is Amy Carter, a sex crimes prosecutor who has been with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for 15 years.
(Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Matsumoto as a JA candidate.)