Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Ameli Seeks Ballot Designation of ‘Superior Court Litigator’
Opponent Says He Will Seek Writ Unless Registrar-Recorder Rejects Title
By ROGER M. GRACE, Editor
Mark Ameli, a candidate in a runoff election for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat, yesterday filed a request in the Registrar-Recorder’s Office to change his ballot designation to “Superior Court Litigator,” which his opponent said he will contest in a writ proceeding.
Ameli’s adversary is Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Randy Hammock, who in the June 8 primary election garnered 21.98 percent of the vote in an eight-way race, while Ameli drew 14.46 percent. Hammock said late yesterday:
“I’m absolutely going to challenge that” unless “cooler heads prevail” and the Registrar-Recorder’s Office disallows the new designation, or Ameli withdraws it.
“He’s trying to mislead the voters into thinking it’s a job title,” Hammock declared, adding that there is an implication that “the Superior Court has approved him.”
Elections Code Sec. 13107 bars any designation which “would mislead the voter.”
Hammock, whose designation is “Superior Court Referee,” asserted that the one Ameli claims “is not a profession, vocation, or occupation.”
Sec. 13107 permits “[n]o more than three words designating” the candidate’s “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” at present or within the preceding year.
Ameli told the MetNews he views the designation as valid.
“A litigator that litigates in the Superior Court is a ‘Superior Court Litigator,’ ” he declared, adding:
“Obviously it’s not an office title. Within the Superior Court, there’s no title called, ‘Superior Court Litigator.’ ”
For the past year-and-a-half, he said, he has been more active as a litigation attorney than as an arbitrator or mediator, rendering the new designation more accurate than the one he used in the primary: “Arbitrator/Mediator/Litigator.”
The candidate noted he contacted the Registrar-Recorder’s Office and was assured the designation would be acceptable. He also said he obtained a letter-opinion from a lawyer in the law office of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP, attesting to the legitimacy of the designation.
Ameli declined to release a copy of the letter yesterday, explaining, with reference to Hammock:
“I don’t want to do his legal research for him.”
Running Ameli’s campaign is David Goul, who acknowledged that using the words “Superior Court” as part of the designation “makes it look like you’re more of a court official than you are.” Nonetheless, he insisted, it is a truthful description of Ameli because litigating in the Superior Court “is what he does.”
Elections Code Sec. 13313 permits “any person” to challenge a designation by a filing a petition for a writ of mandate or a complaint for an injunction between Aug. 7 and Aug. 16.
(The Superior Court will be closed for the weekend, however, on Aug. 7 and 8.)
Under Elections Code Sec. 13107, yesterday was the last day for changing a ballot designation.
Hammock yesterday voiced displeasure over a claim on Ameli’s website, reading:
“Mark Ameli won the Primary Election and is now in a runoff in the General Election on November 2, 2010.”
The referee commented:
“I take issue with the fact that he claims he won the primary. Nobody won the primary. Nobody got more than 50 percent of the vote.”
Hammock pointed out that he received a greater number of votes than Ameli. The official tally shows 166,763 votes for him and 109,700 for Ameli.
“There are 88 cities in Los Angeles County,” Hammock said. “I got more votes than Mr. Ameli in 83 of those cities.”
“I’m assuming winning or losing is a matter of semantics. I did win to get in the run-off.
“[Hammock] is correct that he got more votes than I did. I didn’t count the cities.”
“I’m not changing that unless he shows me I’m incorrect in saying that.”
The only other Los Angeles Superior Court contest on the Nov. 2 ballot is between Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alan Schneider and Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company