Thursday, March 20, 2014
Former Extern Is Given Ballot Title of ‘Los Angeles Prosecutor’
Mathai, Opponent in Superior Court Race, Files Writ Petition to Block Felder’s Designation; Candidate Cooper Seeks Writ to Strip Mednick of ‘Administrative Law Judge’ Label
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Litigation was sparked yesterday by the decision of the county Office of Registrar-Recorder to give maritime and admiralty attorney B. Otis Felder the ballot title of “Los Angeles Prosecutor” based on his participation recently as an extern in the Los Angeles city attorney’s Volunteer Attorney Program.
The designation is being contested by one of Felder’s two opponents in the race for Office No. 61, Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai. The other candidate in that race, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Jacqueline Lewis, said she won’t get involved in the dispute.
Mathai filed a writ petition, which he personally prepared, aimed at forcing Registrar Recorder Dean Logan to use some other description of Felder. He said it will be heard Monday or Tuesday in the courtroom of Judge Luis Lavin.
A petition was also filed yesterday on behalf of Deputy District Attorney Andrew Cooper, who is running for Office No. 157. He is challenging the designation of “Administrative Law Judge” claimed by his sole opponent, Arnold William Mednick, who has been unemployed since Jan. 16, 2013.
Logan’s office has warned that all election disputes need to be resolved by Monday in light of printing deadlines. Cooper’s action is slated to be heard at 8:30 a.m. on Monday before retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien, as is the action filed by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter, challenging the ballot designation of private practitioner Pamela Matsumoto as “Administrative Law Judge.”
Both petitioners are represented by Bradley W. Hertz, of The Sutton Law Firm
To be heard at 9:30 a.m. Monday is an action filed by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alison Matsumoto Estrada. She is seeking to block the designation of her opponent, a part-time filing deputy in the complaints division of the District Attorney’s Office, Helen Kim, who wants to be labeled a “Violent Crimes Prosecutor.”
Matsumoto Estrada is represented by Stuart L. Leviton of Reed & Davidson, LLP.
Not Felder’s Choice
Felder did not choose the title of “Los Angeles City Prosecutor.” His own choice was “Deputy City Prosecutor.”
However, the position Felder held is categorized by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as that of an “extern,” not a “deputy.” The program is designed to give trial experience to new admittees.
Felder, who became a lawyer in 1995, has now returned to private law practice.
Mathai said in an e-mail Tuesday night:
“After I informed the Registrar-Recorder of the false and misleading designations of ‘Deputy City Prosecutor’ and ‘Deputy City Attorney,’ they informed me yesterday morning that they agreed. However, they called me back in the afternoon and stated they were going to allow Mr. Felder to use ‘Los Angeles City Prosecutor.’ After I asked them why they would allow him to have the same designation that Carmen Trutanich had when he ran for DA two years ago, they said they would get back to me this morning.”
(In 2012, Trutanich, then the Los Angeles city attorney, ran for district attorney (losing in the primary). His chosen designation was “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” and his proposed alternative was “Chief Criminal Prosecutor.” Then-Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, a rival candidate, brought a writ petition, arguing that “Los Angeles” could be taken to refer to the County of Los Angeles, rather than the city, so that Trutanich would appear to be the incumbent. Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalin, serving on assignment, agreed, ruling that Trutanich could not use the words “Los Angeles” without “City.” Trutanich’s lawyer suggested “Los Angeles City Prosecutor,” and Kalin remarked: “That seems reasonable to me.”)
“This morning I was informed that they were going to change the designation again. Felder’s designation is now ‘Los Angeles Prosecutor,’ and that is their final decision. This is obviously equally false and misleading because he could be perceived by the public as either the District Attorney, the City Attorney, or a Deputy of either of those elected officials, which he is not and has never been. This is a designation that does not even appear on Mr. Felder’s Ballot Designation worksheet, so I’m unsure why they created it instead of his own stated 2nd Alternative request of ‘Los Angeles Attorney.’ ”
Invoking a provision of the California Code of Regulations which says that a candidate may use a past job if there has been no intervening one, Mednick has claimed the title “Administrative Law Judge,” declaring that he has been unemployed since he left that role with the state Department of Social Services on Jan. 16, 2013. Cooper’s writ petition asserts that in the interim, Mednick has been a practicing lawyer.
“As of February 11, 2014, Mednick was affiliated with the Offices of Steven Bryson, a bankruptcy attorney. This is evidenced by Mednick’s listing with the California State Bar as of that date.”
The petition goes on to say:
“On February 12, 2014, just one day after his State Bar website listing showed Mednick as affiliated with Bryson, he modified his listing to show only a ‘personal mail box; and no affiliation with Bryson. Given that Mednick had just received his nomination papers from Respondent on February 10, 2014…, Petitioner alleges that Mednick’s changing of his State Bar listing was an attempt to hide the fact that he is a practicing attorney so he could attempt to make use of the ‘look back’ provision found in Elections Code section 13107(a)(3).”
That section permits a candidate to list under his or her name, in no more than three words, “either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents.” A regulation, promulgated by the Office of Secretary of State, allows the use of a former position only if there has been none that is current or more recent.
The petition concedes that one of Mednick’s 17 proposed ballot designations would be valid, saying:
“To the extent Mednick is able to successfully argue that he is not currently a practicing attorney, then the only other ballot designation that might be accurate for him is ‘Retired Court Referee.’ ”
The post of Juvenile Court referee was eliminated by the Los Angeles Superior Court as of June 30, 2012. Mednick retired from that position one day earlier, giving rise to his claim that he is a retired referee.
Retirees are allowed to refer in a ballot designation to a position held earlier than the previous calendar year but, under a regulation, only if there has been no intervening job.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company