Three new judges are taking the bench in Santa Barbara County.
Two of them – Kay Kuns, who was appointed, and Jed Beebe, who was elected – will take seats in the North County division in Santa Maria. Appointee Jean Dandona will come aboard in Santa Barbara.
In interviews, all three said they would strive to meet the high bar set by the county’s sitting judges. And all three were as even-keeled as a boat on a still lake.
Beebe’s path to the bench has the longest story. The seat he’s taking became open after the ouster of Judge Diana Hall, who was removed in late 2006 after a drunken driving arrest four years earlier.
Without explanation, the governor’s office missed the deadline to fill the seat, prompting an open judicial race. Two candidates – Beebe and Senior Deputy District Attorney John MacKinnon – survived a five-way June 3 preliminary election to compete Nov. 4.