Monday, February 23, 2004
Lawyer/Activist Marge Buckley Files for Superior Court As Write-in Candidate Against Judge Pounders
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Torrance attorney and civil rights activist Marguerite “Marge” Buckley has qualified as a write-in candidate against Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders in next Tuesday’s primary, election officials said Friday.
Pounders is the only one of the more than 130 unopposed judges of his court who will be on the March 2 ballot, pursuant to a law that permits write-in candidates to run against an unopposed incumbent only if a petition signed by 100 qualified voters is filed no later than 10 days after the close of qualifying.
Buckley was unavailable for comment Friday. Jan Tucker, a private investigator and political activist who filed the petition and is serving as spokesman for her campaign, said he is opposing Pounders because of the judge’s role as chair of the committee that oversees appointment of investigators to assist attorneys for indigent defendants.
The court has a panel of 129 investigators selected by the committee. An attorney whose client is indigent must either select an investigator from the panel, or request a special appointment by the court.
Tucker complained that the system adversely affects the wages and working conditions of the investigators and denies them the right to bargain collectively, and that the panel has too few women and minorities.
The court, through its counsel, Frederick Bennett, has previously responded that it does not take race or gender into account in the process, and that the committee chaired by Pounders includes minority and women judges.
Tucker also said Friday that the San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women will seek to spearhead a write-in campaign against Judge John Harris, charged by the Commission on Judicial Performance Thursday with making inappropriate comments to and about women.
It is too late to force a primary challenge, but the same code section that Tucker used to force Pounders’ name onto the ballot allows a general election challenge to any unopposed incumbent judge not challenged in the primary. The deadline for filing the 100 signatures is Aug. 11.
Neither Pounders nor Harris was available for comment Friday.
Buckley, a lawyer for more than 40 years, has been active in the Green and Peace and Freedom parties and has run for attorney general and district attorney. She has also been active in the National Lawyers Guild and was one of a number of lawyers who served as NLG monitors at the anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle.
She also won a major case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Lubin v. Panish, in 1974. The court held that it was unconstitutional for states to require candidates for office to pay a filing fee without allowing some alternative for indigent candidates.
The ruling led to the present law under which all candidates, not just those who are indigent, may file signatures in lieu of a filing fee, as well as to the elimination of filing fees for write-in candidates.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company