Thursday, January 22, 2004
Mayor’s Office Says:
Hahn Did Not Sign Letter Cited by Delgadillo’s Office
By ROGER M. GRACE, Editor
Mayor James Hahn did not sign a letter as city attorney which the office of the present city attorney, Rockard J. “Rocky” Delgadillo, is attributing to him, the mayor’s office said yesterday.
The letter is being used in an effort to rebuff suggestions that Delgadillo was unlawfully elected as city attorney in 2001 based on his inactive bar status during part of the five-year period preceding the election.
Dated Feb. 23, 2000, the letter is purportedly one from Hahn to then-City Councilman Michael Feuer giving an assurance that inactive bar status did not disqualify a lawyer from running for city attorney. Feuer, who lost to Delgadillo in a June, 2001 run-off election, had been on inactive status from Jan. 1, 1995 to Jan. 19, 1999.
Delgadillo was on that status from Jan. 1, 1995 to July 1, 1999.
Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael Judge has taken the position that all prosecutions brought by the City Attorney’s Office are invalid in light of Delgadillo lacking the qualification set forth in City Charter §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.”
Judge’s deputies have been demurring since a week ago to all new misdemeanor complaints filed by Delgadillo’s office on the ground that they were not reviewed by an “authorized prosecutor.”
The purported Hahn-to-Feuer letter is attached to the memorandum of points and authorities filed in each case in opposition to the demurrer. Drafted by Supervising Deputy City Attorney Lawrence F. Webster, the memorandum says:
“[T]he research and analysis conducted by former City Attorney James K. Hahn concluded that a candidate for City Attorney who is otherwise fully qualified to serve, but who has been on inactive status as a member of the State Bar during some or all of the five years immediately preceding his or her election, nevertheless meets the Charter qualifications….Under Charter section 271, the City Attorney is the legal advisor to the City and charged with the duty to give advice or opinions to City officers and boards, In light of his duties under the Charter, the City Attorney’s interpretation of his City’s charter is persuasive and entitled to consideration and respect.”
The letter, which is not on a letterhead and is not signed, is listed in the index to exhibits as “Letter drafted by James K. Hahn, City Attorney.”
However, Shannon Murphy, Hahn’s director of communications, said yesterday of the letter:
“It was not signed or sent by then-City Attorney Hahn.”
Form of Advice
Feuer has said that he recalls receiving advice from the City Attorney’s Office that he was qualified to run but does not recall if that advice came in written or oral form. Murphy said yesterday:
“The advice was given orally by the City Attorney’s Office.”
In addition to attaching the letter to the opposition to the demurrers, Delgadillo’s office supplied copies of it to reporters after the suggestion was made in the MetNews on Jan. 9 that Delgadillo was not validly elected.
Also attached to the opposition is a memo dated Nov. 18, 1999 from Anthony Saul Alperin (since deceased) and Deputy City Attorney Mary Strobel to Deputy City Attorney Pedro “Pete” Echeverria offering advice on what to include “in drafting a response to Councilman Feuer.”
Echeverria was not available for comment yesterday.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company