Wednesday, April 11, 2012
District Attorney Cooley Applauds Judge’s Decision on Ballot Designation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has hailed the ruling that Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich may refer to himself on the June 5 ballot as a “Prosecutor,” but not “Chief Prosecutor.”
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalin, sitting on assignment, on Monday granted a writ of mandate ordering that Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan disallow Trutanich’s chosen ballot designation of “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” or his back-up label, “Chief Criminal Prosecutor.” The petition was brought by a rival candidate, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson.
Kalin also ruled that the designation must use the word “City” if “Los Angeles” appears.
It has been changed to “Los Angeles City Prosecutor.”
Jackson had contended that Trutanich is not a “prosecutor” because he does not personally conduct prosecutions. The judge disagreed.
Cooley does, also, commenting that Trutanich “is the head of one of the largest prosecutorial agencies in the country—albeit all misdemeanors.”
He also agreed with Kalin that Trutanich should not be referred to as “Chief” prosecutor,
“There is no doubt that a District Attorney is the Chief prosecutor for a county,” Cooley declared, observing:
“The judge made a Solomon-like decision.”
He also commented:
“Candidate Jackson should be commended for keeping Mr. Trutanich honest on this one—even though some of his arguments missed the mark and were misplaced.”
‘Victory for Voters’
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a candidate for district attorney, said that the determination that Trutanich’s proposed designation would be “misleading” to voters “strikes a victory for the voters of Los Angeles County.”
She went on to say:
“The issue of misleading ballot designations has long been a problem in Los Angeles County. Despite the fact that the law says you should use your current job title, ‘win-at-all-cost’ candidates create titles because they know voters don’t have the time to investigate the qualifications of candidates to determine the accuracy of their ballot designations.”
(Under Elections Code §13107, Trutanich could have used the title of elective office he holds or up to three words designating the “current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate.”)
“This matter wasted precious court time when courtrooms are in danger of being closed because of scarce resources. We hope the voters start paying more attention and reject candidates who engage in these types of shenanigans.”
Younger Raises Point
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eric E. Younger, now a private judge, yesterday reflected that he’s “such a dinosaur” that he can’t grasp why candidates—including friends of his—“are so dissatisfied with giving their actual job titles on the ballot.”
Younger (whose late father, Evelle Younger, was district attorney in 1964–1971, before becoming attorney general) continued:
“I don’t see what the disadvantage is in one’s having to say ‘Los Angeles City Attorney,’ if that’s what his job is. I’ve never understood it when a Deputy District Attorney—an honorable calling in my book—has to say ‘criminal prosecutor’ or ‘gang prosecutor,’ etc.
“They hire these consultants, who convince them that no one knows what a Deputy D.A. is, etc., a point on which I have two thoughts: 1) Isn’t this listening waaay too hard to the consultant and 2) but aren’t the folks voting for judgeships (or D.A.) more likely than others to know what the job descriptions are?”
Criminal defense attorney Richard Hirsch took a slap at Trutanich’s proposed ballot designation, saying:
“Grandiosity, although not unusual in politics, has no place in ‘ballot designations.’ ”
Political Consultant Comments
Slate specialist Fred Huebscher said:
“As a political consultant, I would have advised Trutanich to try ‘Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor’ because ballot designations are an important part of a campaign—particularly since voters do not know what a ‘City Attorney’ does.
“By the same token, I would have also realized that there was a good chance one of my opponents would challenge the designation and that a judge could rule either way. One can make a valid case for either side of this argument.
“On the other hand, if I had been Jackson’s consultant, I am not sure I would have challenged Trutanich’s designation since ‘Los Angeles City Prosecutor’ really is only slightly worse than ‘Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor.’ ”
The consultant added:
“From a political perspective, the ballot designation change minimally benefits Trutanich’s opponents because Trutanich’s strength with uninformed voters is slightly diminished since the word ‘prosecutor’ is still part of the designation. I also don’t think Trutanich’s opponents can make an issue out of this because it’s too much ‘insider baseball.’ ”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company