Commissioner runs on ballot for Judge seat

Story by Catherine Stachowiak

Don Griffith, whose candidacy Judge Schuett endorsed, is running for office of Kern County Judge.  Griffith spoke to the Kern Valley Sun about his candidacy Friday, February 16. 

Griffith has been a commissioner for a little over two years beginning in January 2022.

“I currently am a superior court commissioner. And I have my own family law calendar that I’m doing,” he said. 

Colette Humphrey, who was presiding judge at the time, called Griffith to apply for his current position, because the county was starting a new program for domestic violence and family law.  The judges of Kern County approved Griffith as commissioner, unanimously, for the position.  For the following 15 months he handled 900 domestic violence and elder abuse cases for Kern County. 

At that time Griffith’s supervising judge was set to retire. The judge asked him if he’d want to run for his judicial seat and said he was willing to delay his retirement for a couple months until Griffith could apply to run for his seat. 

Griffith is currently doing the long-cause family law calendar, one of seven departmental calendars at the downtown Kern County. He handles many complex property division cases in dissolutions.  

He also had his own Family Law practice for 26 years and was a certified specialist in family law since 2012. 

Griffith believes his experience in Family Law sets him apart as more prepared for the position. He said his competitor for the seat deals more with criminal law.

“I think it’s important for judges to have expertise in the field that they’re taking cases in.” he said.  “I practice family law and I have no intention of moving from family law,” he said.

Griffith wants to have more input helping with cases of domestic violence.