Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Judge Orders Scrapping of Trutanich’s Ballot Designation
Bars Use of ‘Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor’
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, a candidate for district attorney, may not use the ballot designation of “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” or his proposed alternative of “Chief Criminal Prosecutor,” under a ruling yesterday by a retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge, sitting on assignment.
Judge Joseph Kalin gave the attorney for the petitioner, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, one day to present to him a proposed writ of mandate commanding Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan to disallow use by Trutanich of “Los Angeles” without including the word “City” and to reject use of the word “Chief” in connection with “Prosecutor.” Jackson is a rival candidate for district attorney.
Kalin, who left the bench in 1999 but has served periodically since then, rejected the contention put forth on Jackson’s behalf by Stuart L. Leviton, of Reed & Davidson, that Trutanich should be barred from using the word “prosecutor,” at all. Leviton said of Trutanich:
“He is not a prosecutor. There is no evidence Mr. Trutanich is a prosecutor.”
He insisted that the office conducts prosecutions but that Trutanich does not do so, personally.
Stephen J. Kaufman, representing Trutanich, told the judge:
“The city attorney is the person responsible for criminal prosecutions in the City of Los Angeles,” and the fact that he does not try cases “is not dispositive.”
“The district attorney [Steve Cooley] hasn’t set foot in a courtroom during the 11 years he has been district attorney. Would anyone doubt that he is a prosecutor?”
‘Chief’ Found Misleading
While Kalin agreed with Kaufman that Trutanich is a “prosecutor,” he was apparently persuaded by Leviton that the word “chief” is misleading.
Leviton pointed out that the Office of District Attorney conducts prosecutions within the City of Los Angeles, and said:
“I daresay the district attorney would take umbrage that somebody else is chief prosecutor, even within the City of Los Angeles.”
Although Kaufman maintained that “Los Angeles” without the word “City” being used as a modifier is not misleading—saying that the words generally are understood to refer to a city—he virtually conceded the matter. He said his client “would be amenable and more than willing” to have “City” inserted.
Once Kalin ruled, Kaufman asked that the ballot designation be pinned down. He proposed: “Los Angeles City Prosecutor.”
Kalin said, “That seems reasonable to me,” but declined to dictate the precise wording.
Both Sides Pleased
Both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
“I am pleased and satisfied that the court saw through Mr. Trutanich’s attempt to mislead and deceive the voters with a concocted ballot designation. The court clearly sent a message that the people of Los Angeles deserve better than to be hoodwinked.”
“We are pleased that the judge agreed with us that Carmen Trutanich is the prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles, and that his ballot designation is allowed to reflect that.”
Trutanich Claims Victory
John Shallman, Trutanich’s campaign consultant, went on to declare that Trutanich was the winning party. He said in a prepared statement:
“It’s another victory in court for Carmen Trutanich. The court rejected Jackson’s attempt to strip Trutanich of his rightful designation as a prosecutor. Carmen Trutanich is proud to be the Los Angeles City Prosecutor running one of the largest local prosecutorial offices in the nation. As we said from the beginning though, today’s ruling is irrelevant because ballot titles are irrelevant which is why we didn’t challenge Jackson’s bogus title. It’s particularly irrelevant when you consider the fact that Carmen Trutanich paid the County Registrar $106,000 in order to provide voters with a 200-word statement of qualifications. Jackson failed to provide a statement because he wasted all of his money on a negative smear campaign against Carmen Trutanich. Now Jackson is broke. So the score stands: Trutanich 200, Jackson 0.”
Jackson strategist John Thomas responded:
“Victory? A judge just ruled against Mr. Trutanich calling his ballot titles misleading, forcing him to throw out both of his proposed titles. Mr. Trutanich and his campaign appear to have a complete disregard for honesty and the truth.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company