Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Judicial Candidate Hughey Defends Ballot Designation
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A candidate challenging a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has defended his right to be listed as “Retired Criminal Prosecutor” on the June 5 primary ballot, even though he now has a private law office.
“Since all of my activities since retirement as a Criminal Prosecutor are either nominal, pro forma or titular in character, I believe that I am entitled to use the ballot designation ‘Retired Criminal Prosecutor,’” Kenneth R. Hughey wrote in a declaration submitted to Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan.
A copy of the declaration was obtained by the MetNews.
As the county election officer, Logan will decide whether to strike the ballot designation. An adverse decision could be challenged in court by Hughey, while any voter could challenge a decision to allow the use of the title.
Hughey is opposing Judge James Otto, a member of the court since 2003.
The 79-year-old challenger began a legal career in his mid-60s, after having served in the military and worked in the aerospace industry. He was a Los Angeles deputy city attorney for 13 years, prosecuting misdemeanors.
He retired from the office a year ago, he explained, and now receives a $30,000 annual pension that is his “principal source of income.”
Hughey acknowledged that he has an office and a website as a private attorney, but declared:
“Since I retired, I initially occupied an office in a law firm for about nine months. During that time I voluntarily assisted the owner of the firm for about 40 hours in preparing one civil case for which I received no pay. I also made two brief court appearances as a courtesy to the firm owner who is an old friend. Otherwise, I used the office as a getaway for personal reasons.
“I then rented an office in a shared office space with two other attorneys. My name is on the door, and I am listed with the state bar as an attorney with a law office address. However, 1 have used this offce largely as my private office for personal use other than practicing law. I did start a web site with the intent of beginning a private practice. At about the same time as I started my web site, I turned my attention to the prospect of becoming a candidate for a position as a Superior Court Judge.”
His only income from practicing law in the past year, he said, is a $1,500 fee for a single case.
Hughey’s reference to “nominal, pro forma, or titular” involvement in private law practice appears to be an allusion to Andal v. Miller (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 358. The court there held that a state senator who had been named to an unpaid position assisting the Sacramento County sheriff could not be designated as “Senator/Peace Officer” because his duties in the latter position “does not entail a significant involvement on the part of the candidate.”
The court in that case also rejected an alternative designation of “Senator/Retired Undersheriff.” While the panel rejected the title on timeliness grounds, it also suggested that the designation was “problematic” because state guidelines say that to be listed as retired, a candidate generally cannot have “had another more recent occupation.”
Otto’s campaign consultant, Fred Huebscher, said yesterday that Hughey “is clearly practicing law.”
A lawyer “doesn’t have business cards and a website unless you’re practicing law,” he said. He also noted that if Hughey wasn’t practicing, he could have taken inactive status and still be eligible to run for judge.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company