Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Judge Declines to Expedite Injunction Hearing in Brown Case
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A judge yesterday denied a request from the plaintiffs challenging Jerry Brown’s eligibility to be California’s attorney general to expedite the hearing date on their motion to enjoin the counting of ballots cast for Brown in the Nov. 7 election.
Jimmie E. Johnson of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento, who represented plaintiffs at the hearing, told the MetNews that Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang weighed the potential harm of waste of taxpayer dollars versus the harm if the Democratic nominee were effectively taken off the ballot improperly, and decided it would be better not to take him off the ballot.
He said that Chang said it was in the best interest of the public not to decide the case before the election.
Merits of Action
Johnson said Chang did not discuss the merits of the action, which was filed last week on behalf of 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.
Since the plaintiffs filed their suit before the election, Johnson said, they will not have to amend after the election, if Brown wins, to conform the suit to the requirements of a contest under the Elections Code. Instead, if Brown wins, plaintiffs will request an injunction barring the election from being certified, and barring Brown from taking the oath of office, he said.
Brown’s attorney’s said before yesterday’s hearing that, once the election is over, an elections contest is the only proper way plaintiffs could proceed. Brown was represented at the hearing by Robin B. Johansen of Remcho Johansen & Purcell in San Leandro, who could not be reached for comment.
Counsel representing Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Secretary of State Bruce McPerson, who are seeking to intervene in the action, also attended yesterday’s hearing. Johnson said that Chang seemed agreeable to allowing the two to intervene, but did make a formal order allowing them to do so.
A spokesperson for Lockyer said the attorney general is seeking to intervene for the purpose of ensuring that a “full and fair election” takes place, and “not to weigh in on the merits” of the case. Lockyer, a Democrat, and Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson jointly opposed plaintiff’s application for an expedited hearing date.
The plaintiffs claim that Brown, currently mayor of Oakland, fails to qualify to be attorney general 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 State Bar throughout the five-year period. Brown’s attorneys argue the anyone who has been a member of the bar, even if on voluntary inactive status, during the period qualifies under the statute.
Brown was initially admitted to the State Bar in 1965, but was 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, which have consistently shown Brown with a double-digit lead.
Also appearing at yesterday’s hearing were Brown’s wife, attorney Anne B. Gust plaintiff and Yolo County GOP Chair Mark A. Pruner and county counsel for the five county registrars named as co-defendants, some of whom appeared telephonically.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company