Monday, February 10, 2014
Judge Admonishes Colleagues Over Campaign Activity
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday endorsed a candidate running for his seat, in an email to colleagues.
Several hours later, another jurist reminded colleagues, also in an email blast, that state law prohibits use of public resources for campaign activity.
The first email was from Judge David Milton, who last sat in his Glendale courtroom on Nov. 27, but whose retirement is not effective until Feb. 19.
“I was asked whether I endorsed a candidate to succeed me for Office #97. The answer is yes, without reservation. She is Deputy District Attorney Teresa Magno, a former criminal street gang prosecutor, presently assigned to the organized and hate crimes division, whom I believe is exceptionally well qualified for the seat, and would serve the court quite well.”
In a subsequent email—which made no explicit reference to the Milton missive, but was titled “Use of Groupwise for campaign activity”—Judge Mary Ann Murphy cited Government Code §8314(a). Groupwise is the name of the court’s internal email program.
The statute makes it “unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity.”
Subdivision (b)(2) of that section defines campaign activity as “an activity constituting a contribution as defined in Section 82015 or an expenditure as defined in Section 82025,” but specifically excludes “the incidental and minimal use of public resources, such as equipment or office space, for campaign purposes, including the referral of unsolicited political mail, telephone calls, and visitors to private political entities.”
Milton could not be reached for comment, and Murphy declined to discuss the matter.
A court spokesperson said that judges who have vacated their courtrooms in advance of retirement retain access to the email system until their official retirement dates.
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