Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Cooley Files Petition to Block Harman’s Use of ‘Prosecutor’ on Ballot
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley yesterday filed a petition for writ of mandate to block one of his opponents for the Republican nomination for state attorney general, Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, from appearing on the June ballot as “Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator.”
Kevin Spillane, a consultant for Cooley’s campaign, said the case has been assigned to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner, and that Cooley requested a hearing date this Thursday—the deadline for the secretary of state’s office to issue the certified list of candidates with the designations that will appear on the ballot.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen gave preliminary approval to Harman’s designation last Friday, and Harman’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
In the ballot designation worksheet accompanying his nominating documents, Harman claimed he is a “prosecutor” based on his participation in the Orange County Trial Attorney Partnership Program, an eight-week volunteer program under which attorneys serve as unpaid deputy district attorneys by appointment of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Harman’s paperwork stated that he works “Thursdays and Fridays” in his position, and can “greatly increase my hours during our recesses.”
Rackauckas, who has endorsed Harman, named him a deputy less than a week before Harman submitted his paperwork for the attorney general’s race in February.
The complaint, filed on behalf of Cooley by Dana W. Reed, Stuart L. Leviton, and Daniel K. Abramson of Reed & Davidson LLP, asserted that “Prosecutor” cannot be Harman’s principal occupation under Elections Code Sec. 13107 since his participation in the volunteer program does not constitute a “profession” insofar as he does not earn his livelihood from it.
Even if Harman’s participation in the program could qualify as a “profession,” Cooley contended, that entails too little involvement by the candidate to qualify as his “principal” profession, since it is only a short-term, temporary volunteer assignment.
Cooley has also objected to conservative legal scholar John Eastman’s request to use the title of “Assistant Attorney General,” which Bowen disallowed, or “Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney.”
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley on Friday granted Cooley’s motion to intervene as a real party in interest in support of Bowen’s decision and to challenge Eastman’s alternate designation. Proceedings in the case are expected to resume Thursday.
South Dakota Case
Eastman, who stepped down as dean of the Chapman University School of Law in January, claimed that his assignment as a special assistant attorney general in South Dakota to represent the state in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court rendered his preferred ballot designation—or the alternate of “Special Assistant Attorney-General”—a factually accurate description of his principal profession, as required by Sec. 13107.
Bowen disagreed in a March 19 letter to Eastman’s campaign, saying the designation was “misleading” in that it could lead voters to believe he was “working as an Assistant Attorney General or as a Special Assistant Attorney-General in the office for which he is currently running.”
Cooley’s campaign has also contended the term “Taxpayer Advocate” is misleading since other candidates who have used the title represented taxpayer organizations in some capacity, and Eastman does not.
Eastman claimed in the ballot designation worksheet accompanying his nominating documents that representing taxpayers “has been and remains a main area of my practice as an attorney over the past eleven years.”
He also noted his work in the South Dakota case, which deals with prisoners’ rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and a dozen other cases as a representative sample of his representation of individual taxpayers, corporate taxpayers and groups of taxpayers in cases involving tax issues.
Cooley, Harman and Eastman are seeking the Republican nomination to replace Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor. The winner will face the victor among six Democratic candidates.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company