Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Judicial Candidate’s Designation Called ‘Disingenuous’
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court candidate Hayden Zacky says opponent George C. Montgomery’s new ballot designation of “Criminal Civil Attorney” is “disingenuous.”
The county registrar recently approved paperwork Montgomery submitted on Aug. 1 to change his “Trial Lawyer/ Teacher” designation for office no. 102 on the November ballot, according to a spokesperson.
The spokesperson would not give details regarding the nature of the information the registrar required from Montgomery before approving the change, saying only that the county recorder received supporting documentation from his attorney, Randall W. Keen, and a declaration from attorney John M. Kemp, both attesting to his being a member in good standing of the State Bar and his license to appear in all courts. Montgomery also attested under penalty of perjury to the fact that he has been a member of the State Bar since 1960, the spokesperson added.
“I’ve never heard of anybody calling themselves a ‘criminal civil attorney,’” Zacky said. “The ballot designation is terribly misleading and confusing. The only speculation I have is that he’s trying to confuse the voters into thinking he’s a prosecutor because I am.”
Zacky, a deputy district attorney whose ballot designation is “Criminal Gang Prosecutor,” came away with 48.13% of the vote in the June primaries, while Montgomery obtained 31.66% of the vote with his original designation. The two are vying for the seat left open by Judge Marion Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election.
Zacky said that according to his sources, Montgomery has apparently associated himself with a friend who is a criminal attorney for the purpose of being allowed to describe himself as a criminal law practitioner in the general election.
“It’s very transparent, what he’s doing, because he hasn’t done any criminal work that I know of in a very long time,” Zacky commented. “It’s ridiculous.”
Montgomery did not return calls seeking comment on the issue, but civil attorney Leonard Herbert Pomerantz, one of his public supporters, said that based on his experience working with Montgomery on both civil and criminal matters, the new designation was “absolutely” accurate.
“George is a multi-talented lawyer,” he said. “He’s licensed in many states and the U.K. He’s a brilliant lawyer. He’s done criminal work, he’s done civil, he’s done everything. I know he’s qualified in both areas.”
Pomerantz declined to comment on whether the candidate’s new designation could be misleading.
Montgomery’s statements on his campaign website include a vow to take a tough stance against violent crimes:
“My motto is simple: No leniency will be shown convicted criminals, and I will be especially tough on repeat violent offenders.”
Prior to the June primary, Montgomery told the METNEWS that he tried three criminal cases early in his career but stopped doing criminal work because he did not like defendants.
When asked whether Montgomery was qualified to be billed as a criminal attorney, Brent Braun, Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Election Evaluations Committee, remarked:
“Based on the information that was presented to us at the time of his evaluation, I would be disinclined to think that was the case.”
The committee, which in May issued a rating of “not-qualified” for Montgomery, could not disclose details about the evaluation process, Braun said. But the chairman commented that Montgomery—as a potential recipient of the public’s trust and confidence—should be able to provide facts and documentation regarding his definition of “criminal” experience.
One source familiar with Montgomery’s history said that much of his career since being admitted to the State Bar in 1960 was devoted to surety bond and insurance defense work.
Montgomery, 73, co-founded the now-defunct firm of Montgomery, Bottum, Regal & McNally, where he was head litigator and chair of the management committee. After the firm’s dissolution, he joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he practiced until 1993, and then practiced with Chadbourne & Parke until 1994.
He currently has an office in Santa Monica, where he has spent most of his professional time doing motion and discovery work, he said in a previous interview with the METNEWS.
Montgomery received his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1959 and graduated from what was then Loyola University in 1954.
He reportedly changed his party affiliation to Democrat in late July on the advice of a campaign consultant, Zacky said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company