Hermosa’s Judge Olson seeks re-election to Superior Court 

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lynn Olson says owning Manhattan Bread and Bagel with her husband before being elected to the bench gave her valuable insights about the broader community. Photo by Elka Worner

by Elka Worner

During her 17 years on the bench, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lynn Olson has only held one attorney in contempt of court. That attorney is challenging her in the March 5 election.

 “I completely embrace and support anyone’s right to run,” Olson said of her opponent Deputy Public Defender Rhonda Haymon.

Both candidates are running for Los Angeles Superior Court Seat No. 12. The governor appoints most of California’s 1,600 Superior Court judges. The public votes on judges only if they are challenged for a new term, or if a judge retires.

Olson, who works in the court’s magistrate division fielding requests for search warrants and emergency orders, was thoughtful and measured when she spoke of the contempt of court citation against Haymon.

 “There’s a way to conduct yourself and she completely crossed the line,” Olson said of the 2023 incident. “She was warned multiple times and completely disregarded the court’s orders. She was issued a fine for her discourteous and disruptive actions.”

Olson’s command of the courtroom was one of the reasons the Los Angeles Times endorsed the longtime Hermosa Beach resident, who, they said had “earned a reputation as a solid, hard-working judge.”

“Olson is easily the better choice,” the Times said. “She is an even-tempered judge who demonstrated that she knows how to manage a courtroom.”

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a legal publication, has also endorsed Olson. The paper said her opponent was “unfit to be a judge” and “running solely based on a personal beef.”

 “She is running because Olson found her in contempt for prattling on after she had been told to be quiet, continuing to allude without warrant to unrelated and irrelevant proceedings, uttering insulting allegations, and, in general, acting like an undisciplined brat,” the paper said.

While most judicial elections go unnoticed, Olson has garnered plenty of media attention.

In 2006, she ran against a standing judge and won. She was criticized for her limited experience and became known as the “Bagel Lady,” because of the Manhattan Bread and Bagel store she and her husband Michael Keegan owned in Manhattan Beach. Her husband served on the Hermosa Council for two terms, from 2001 until 2009.

Olson never worked as a prosecutor or public defender, but practiced civil law. Being an outsider, “someone who didn’t come up through the system has been beneficial,” she said because she can apply her “business background, community work and education” to the judiciary.

 “There are those who believe that judicial elections are not the appropriate avenue for choosing judges,” she said. “But from my perspective, if you meet the qualifications, you have the right to run.”

Olson said initially some of her judicial colleagues did not welcome her, but she has proven herself to be an efficient judge capable of handling the heavy workload while remaining fair and impartial.

“I’ve always said that I am here to work and to serve the community,” the judge said. “I’ve had some of the most demanding cases in the departments in which I’ve worked, very heavy schedules. I enjoy the work. This is my way of serving the community and administering justice.”

Olson began her career as a judge in El Monte where she oversaw traffic and civil cases. She was a judge in Compton for 12 years handling misdemeanor trials and preliminary hearings.

She now works largely online reviewing law enforcement requests for search warrants, restraining orders, and child removal orders.

“Law enforcement work has shifted to research and fact finding online, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, what people store on their phones,” she said. “All that information can be very helpful to certain investigations.”

Olson considers herself a “gatekeeper of the Fourth Amendment,” which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.”

 “There’s a real balance between police officers having probable cause to obtain what they are requesting and your Fourth Amendment rights,” she said.

“Weighing that balance and knowing where the line cannot be crossed,” is what she considers every day.

Olson said she loves her work and has wanted to be a lawyer since the third grade. She grew up in St. Louis, MO, and attended the University of Illinois for her undergraduate and law degrees.

Most of her campaign appearances have been on Zoom, often with groups asking her position on gun control. Like all judges, Olson said she can’t answer those types of questions. “I have to follow the law,” she said.

 “Judges should just hear the facts,” she said. “People don’t want to appear in front of a judge who has an agenda.” ER


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