Friday, August 29, 2014
Court of Appeal Rejects Andrew Stein’s Bid to Keep Ballot Designation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Criminal defense attorney Andrew M. Stein, a candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court judge in the November election, will be listed on the ballot as “Trial Attorney” after losing a bid to keep his preferred designation, his attorney said yesterday.
Div. Two of this district’s Court of Appeal summarily denied Stein’s petition for writ of mandate yesterday, one day after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge said he could not be listed on the ballot as a “Gang/Homicide Attorney,” or anything similar, because the designation is misleading.
The panel consisted of Presiding Justice Roger Boren, Justice Victoria Chavez, and assigned Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edward Ferns.
Attorney Bradley Hertz of The Sutton Law Firm said Stein would not seek relief from the state Supreme Court and would “go forward with the election.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell Wednesday agreed with Deputy City Attorney Tom Griego, who finished a close second to Stein in the June primary—Deputy District Attorney Steven Schreiner came in third—and issued a writ of mandate barring the designation.
Hertz had argued that a “reasonably prudent voter” would understand that Stein is not a prosecutor, because the word “prosecutor” does not appear in the ballot designation, whereas Griego and the other 15 prosecutors running in contested races in the June primary all used that word in their titles.
The judge was unmoved, and fully adopted her tentative ruling at the end of the hearing.
“Although the designation ‘Gang/Homicide Attorney’ is undoubtedly literally accurate—Real Party is an attorney who handles gang and homicide trials…—the designation is provocatively selected to liken Real Party to various other criminal prosecutors who seek judgeships. The selection of the designation appears intended to create and will likely actually create confusion in the mind of reasonable voters by implying that Real Party is a criminal prosecutor like his opponents and not a defense attorney. The popular allure of the prosecutorial role amongst the reasonable voting populace is precisely why the designation of a neutral professional designation (‘attorney’ rather than ‘defender, for example) in conjunction with criminal activity (‘gang,’ ‘homicide,’ or ‘drug,’ for example) misleads the reasonable voter into the assumption that Real Party is a ‘prosecutor.’“
O’Donnell also rejected the argument that Griego waited too long to challenge the designation. She cited Petrucello’s declaration, and said that an Elections Code provision cited by Stein—requiring a candidate who wants to change a designation between the primary and general election to do so at least 98 days prior to Election Day—has no applicability to a challenge.
Griego was represented by Stephen J. Kaufman and George M. Yin of Kaufman Legal Group, APC.
The case is Griego v. Logan (Stein), BS150531.
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