Friday, September 3, 2010
Judge Yaffe Rules Ameli Cannot Be Listed as ‘Superior Court Litigator’ on Ballot
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Mark Ameli, a candidate in a runoff election for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat, cannot be designated as a “Superior Court Litigator” on the Nov. 2 ballot, a Superior Court judge ruled yesterday.
Judge David Yaffe denied Ameli’s petition to compel Registrar/Recorder Dean Logan, by writ of mandate, to accept the proposed designation. Ameli will now be listed as “Litigator/Mediator/Arbitrator,” the alternative designation that he submitted to the registrar/recorder in July.
Yaffe agreed with the county and with Ameli’s opponent, Superior Court Referee Randy Hammock, that the designation violated Elections Code Sec. 13107 because it “would mislead the voter” into believing that the candidate holds some type of official position within the court.
Sec. 13107 permits a candidate to list “[n]o more than three words designating” the candidate’s “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” at present or within the preceding year.
Second Place Finish
Ameli, in the June 8 primary election, garnered 14.46 percent of the vote, second to 21.98 percent of the vote in an eight-way race. Hammock said at the time Ameli submitted his proposed designation that he would challenge it if the registrar allowed it, and Yaffe allowed Hammock to join the litigation as an indispensable party.
Ameli did not contend that “Superior Court Litigator” is an official title, but said it was a valid description of what he does. 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.”
His attorney, Paul Gough of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, told Yaffe yesterday that “as a superior court litigator myself, I’m disappointed this did not pass muster.”
Ameli was not trying to mislead anyone, and in fact was initially told by an official within Logan’s office that the designation was likely to be accepted, Gough said, provoking a “So what?” response from the judge.
The designation was not so much misleading as “novel,” Gough said, to which the judge responded “if it worked it wouldn’t be novel,” chuckling.
Hammock, who was represented by Stuart L. Leviton and Daniel K. Abramson of Reed & Davidson, said in statement after the hearing:
“Today, common sense and fairness prevailed over legal gamesmanship and a desire to win at any cost. I am hopeful that during the remaining two months of this campaign, we can focus on our respective legal experiences and qualifications to become a Superior Court Judge.”
Ameli was present in court in the morning but left before the hearing, his attorney explained, because he had a plane to catch. There was no immediate indication whether he would appeal.
The case is Ameli v. Logan, BS127083.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company