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A Look at Fresno's Judiciary as Mangano Takes His Robe



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Even though he was sworn in last January, Robert Mangano took his black robe at a ceremony Friday, joining his brethren as a Fresno County judge.
Dozens of his colleagues descended upon the event at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium officially welcome Mangano into the fold. He won election to the bench in June 2018, and is assigned to family law. Formerly a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office, Mangano joked he had no family law experience.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub
David Taub
Politics 101
The judiciary, like the legislative branch of county government, is directly elected by the people. According to the court’s judicial roster, the terms of 18 judges expire next year and they would be up for reelection.
However, it is extremely rare that a sitting judge is challenged in an election. Mangano won his seat in an open election to replace the retiring Dennis Peterson.
Judicial experts tell Politics 101 they expect all 18 judges to run again. If no challengers emerge, the judges keep their jobs without a formal election.

Fresno County judges gather at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for the enrobing ceremony of Robert Mangano on June 14, 2019 (GV Wire/David Taub)

Nasreen Johnson’s Future

Nasreen Johnson

Nasreen Johnson, who unsuccessfully ran for two separate offices in the last year, is thinking about it again — for Fresno County Board of Supervisors in 2024!
Johnson ran for the open supervisor seat in April, falling to eventual winner Steve Brandau. That seat is open again next March for the full term.
Why file for 2024? Johnson said “she is keeping her options open.”

Cox’s Local PAC Money

Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno) pledged not to take corporate PAC money when he won office in 2018. That doesn’t mean he isn’t taking any PAC money.
He’s collected $131,000 from various committees, including agriculture groups (rice, almonds, dairy), other members of Congress (Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, and Jim Clyburn, for example), and union interests (carpenters, postal workers).
Only two of those political action committees are based in Fresno — the Friant Water PAC which has contributed $1,000 so far in 2019; and the Valley First Leadership PAC, which has donated $2,500.
Friant Water PAC contributed $21,950 to six federal candidates in the 2018 cycle, four of them from California. It donated to Republicans and Democrats.
Valley First is run by Steven Diebert, a man GV Wire featured in a 2016 story for serving as an elector to the Electoral College. He is probate referee, helping determine the values of property that the probate court deals with.
In 2018, Valley First contributed $32,100 to 15 Democrats, including $2,000 to Jim Costa (D-Fresno), according to Open Secrets.

Free Trump Swag at Local GOP Event

Fresno County Republicans will gather Tuesday night to celebrate President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
The local GOP group will gather at the High Sierra Grill House (2003 W. Bullard in Fresno) to watch Trump announce his kick off his 2020 campaign from Florida.
The county party says the first 45 people through the door will receive free Trump swag.

Will Warren, Harris Visit Fresno?

On the Democratic Party side, Politics 101 is hearing of potential Fresno visits by presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) later this summer.

It’s Never Too Early

District attorney Lisa Smittcamp held a fundraiser for her 2022 reelection campaign last week.
Recently reported donations included $5,000 each from Valley Wide Beverage Company, Triple B Ranch, Donghy Sales, Inc., and her father-in-law Robert Smittcamp.
She won her second term unopposed.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email