Monday, March 19, 2012
Opponent Alan Jackson Challenges Trutanich Ballot Designation
Candidate Says ‘Los Angeles,’ Without ‘City,’ Is Misleading
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
District Attorney candidate Alan Jackson Friday brought a Los Angeles Superior Court action challenging the ballot designation of an opponent, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
Jackson and Trutanich are among six candidates seeking election as district attorney. Jackson, a deputy district attorney, has submitted the ballot designation of “Gang Homicide Prosecutor” for the June 5 primary, and Trutanich has asked to be listed as “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor.”
Jackson argues in his petition for writ of mandate that the unadorned geographic reference to “Los Angeles” is misleading, and that “Trutanich is improperly trying to mislead voters into believing that he is currently the ‘Chief Prosecutor’ for the County of Los Angeles.”
Attached to the petition is a copy of the worksheet that Trutanich submitted to support his chosen designation. Besides listing “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor,” the city attorney offered the alternative “Chief Criminal Prosecutor,” and explained that “I am the Chief Prosecutor of Los Angeles in my capacity as Los Angeles City Attorney.”
Jackson, however, argued in his petition that neither of those designations constitutes a “profession” or a “principal” occupation or vocation, within the meaning of the Elections Code. Jackson asserted that Trutanich’s profession is “law,” that “his appropriate professional description is ‘attorney,’” and that his vocation or occupation is “Los Angeles City Attorney.”
Trutanich, he argued, does not personally prosecute cases and therefore “cannot properly describe himself as a prosecutor of any kind.”
Not only is Trutanich seeking to mislead voters into thinking that he is the top county prosecutor, Jackson asserted, his use of “chief” is misleading because the City Attorney’s Office only prosecutes misdemeanors, while felonies, including those occurring in the city, are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.
Jackson is being represented by Dana W. Reed and Stuart L. Leviton of Reed & Davidson, LLP.
Trutanich Campaign Response
John Shallman, who is directing Trutanich’s campaign, told the MetNews that the petition is “ the height of hypocrisy,” and that it is Jackson, rather than Trutanich, who is using a misleading ballot designation.
Shallman contended that Jackson should not be using the title “Gang Homicide Prosecutor,” since he has not been assigned to a designated gang unit in several years. That issue was raised when Jackson filed the designation earlier this month, and Jackson’s campaign explained at the time that the candidate has been prosecuting, and continues to prosecute, gang-related homicides, along with other major crimes, in his current assignment.
Jackson, Shallman responded, “is obviously a guy who thinks voters are stupid.”
Trutanich, he said, has chosen an “absolutely accurate” designation, because in the city, Trutanich “is the chief and he is a prosecutor.” While the office has both criminal and civil responsibilities, all 300 of the criminal deputies report to the city attorney, he said.
“They don’t report to the mayor or the council or the district attorney,” he said, adding that “ 70 percent of arrests made in the city are prosecuted by [Trutanich’s] office.”
Rest of the Field
The other candidates running are all current prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office. They are John L. Breault III, Bobby Grace, Danette Meyers, and Jackie Lacy.
Breault and Grace are using “Deputy District Attorney” as a ballot designation, while Meyers has submitted “Senior Deputy DA” and Lacey “Chief Deputy D.A.”
Two other declared candidates, both deputy district attorneys, did not return papers by last Wednesday’s deadline. Mario Trujillo said he dropped out for health and family reasons, while Steven J. Ipsen did not respond to phone calls or an e-mail requesting comment on his withdrawal.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company