Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Lockyer Will Not Seek to Remove Delgadillo, Spokesman Says
By DAVID KLINE
(CAPITOL)—Attorney General Bill Lockyer does not plan to initiate proceedings to remove Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard “Rocky” Delgadillo from office based on published allegations that Delgadillo is not legally qualified to hold the office, Lockyer’s spokesman said yesterday.
Nathan Barankin, Lockyer’s director of communications, said the attorney general will follow standard procedures for evaluating the merits of any request for quo warranto that may be filed, but that he doesn’t know of any such request being filed regarding Delgadillo.
Asked if Lockyer would take action to remove fellow Democrat Delgadillo from office independent of a request from a third party, Barankin said, “No, not based on what we’ve seen thus far.”
Under California law, the attorney general’s approval is required before a private individual may take legal action to remove an elected official from office. The requirement is intended to protect public officials from frivolous suits, Lockyer’s website says.
If an application for a quo warranto action is filed, the attorney general’s Opinions Unit will review it and issue an opinion granting or denying the application to sue, Barankin said.
“We don’t ordinarily directly control the litigation,” Barankin said. “We maintain control and oversight of it, but we very rarely litigate it ourselves.”
Delgadillo’s status has been called into question in recent opinion pieces by Roger M. Grace, editor and co-publisher of the MetNews. Grace said in his Jan. 9 “Perspectives” column that Delgadillo, a former deputy mayor who was elected in 2001, did not meet the qualifications for the office as written in the City Charter.
Specifically, Grace cited the charter’s Sec. 270, which says “The City Attorney must be qualified to practice in all the courts of the state, and must have been so qualified for at least five years immediately preceding his or her election.”
According to State Bar records, Delgadillo was on inactive status—and thus was ineligible to practice law—from Jan. 1, 1995 to July 1, 1999. In his column, Grace cited several precedents supporting his interpretation that Delgadillo’s inactivity made him ineligible for election as city attorney.
Barankin declined to comment on the claim that Delgadillo does not meet the City Charter’s qualifications.
Former City Councilman Michael Feuer, Delgadillo’s opponent in the June 5, 2001 election, also was on inactive status with the State Bar from 1995 to 1999, making him subject to the same challenge.
The third-place finisher in the April 10, 2001 primary election was Deputy District Attorney Lea Purwin D’Agostino, who has been an active member of the State Bar since her admission in 1976, State Bar records show.
Delgadillo spokesman Eric Moses would not answer questions about the city attorney’s status when contacted yesterday afternoon.
Delgadillo’s website notes that he is “the highest-ranking Latino to win citywide office in more than 100 years.” In 2002, he received the Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s John F. Kennedy Award.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company