Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Secretary of State, A.G. Seek to Intervene in Suit Against Brown
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California secretary of state, the attorney general, and the state Democratic Party are seeking to intervene in a lawsuit filed by state Republican Party leaders challenging Democratic candidate Jerry Brown’s eligibility to run for state attorney general, Brown’s attorneys said yesterday.
Zachary Wasserman of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean in Oakland, representing Brown, told the MetNews that it’s his understanding that attorneys representing plaintiffs Thomas G. Del Beccaro, Contra Costa County Republican Party chairman Adam C. Abrahms, head of the Los Angeles chapter of the California Republican Lawyers Association and others, have stipulated that Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and Attorney General Bill Lockyer may intervene in the action filed last week.
Charles H. Bell of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento, attorney for the plaintiffs, said last week he intended to seek an order shortening time yesterday with hopes that his clients’ motion for preliminary injunction could be heard Friday. But Wasserman said everything has been delayed due to the requests to intervene. Wasserman said the application to shorten time has been noticed for this afternoon before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang. If Chang denies the motion, the court would not be able to hear plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction until after the Nov. 7 election.
But Wasserman said that after the election, a different set of procedural rules apply. The complaint is currently drafted as a taxpayer suit designed to prevent waste which would result from having the votes of an ineligible candidate counted.
After the election, Wasserman said, the plaintiffs would have to follow the procedures for an election challenge under the state’s Elections Code.
The suit claims that Brown, currently mayor of Oakland, fails to qualify under Government Code Sec. 12503, which says:
“No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.”
Plaintiffs contend the statute requires one to be an active member of the bar during the five year period. Brown’s camp argues the statute only requires that one be a member of the bar during the period.
Brown was initially admitted to the bar in 1965, but went on inactive status from 1997 to May 2003.
State Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, Brown’s challenger in the race, has said he “supports” the suit. Brown’s camp has called it a “desperate dirty trick” by a candidate behind in the polls.
Calls to plaintiffs’ attorney Charles H. Bell of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento, and the secretary of state and attorney general offices were not returned.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company