Wednesday, March 23, 2016
In Contest for Superior Court Office No. 11
Two Writ Challenges to Ballot Designations Are Filed
By ROGER M. GRACE
Two candidates in the race for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 11 have filed writ petitions challenging a rival candidate’s ballot designation, and the possibility looms of a third challenge.
Those who are spatting over designations are Deputy District Attorneys Steven Schreiner, Debra Archuleta, and Paul Kim. A fourth candidate—Jonathan Alexan Malek, listed as “Civil Litigator”—said yesterday he “will not be challenging anyone’s ballot designation.”
• Schreiner is seeking a writ to bar use by Archuleta of the designation, “Violent Crimes Prosecutor.”
• Kim, who has adopted the ballot designation of “Gang Murder Prosecutor,” is contesting use of that same description by Schreiner.
• Schreiner said yesterday he will be talking with his attorney, Stuart L. Leviton, as to the possibility of challenging Kim’s designation.
Both writ petitions were filed Monday.
Under the Elections Code, a ballot designation for persons not holding office is to consist of up to three words describing the candidate’s “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” within the past year, and the designation must be barred if it is misleading.
White Collar Division
The writ petition challenging Archuleta’s designation, prepared by Leviton, of Reed & Davidson LLP, declares:
“Ms. Archuleta cannot use ‘Violent Crimes Prosecutor’ as her ballot designation because it neither constitutes Ms. Archuleta’s principal occupation or vocation. Ms. Archuleta has been a member of the White Collar Crime Unit for at least two years….The White Collar Crime Unit does not prosecute ‘violent’ crimes, as that term is used in the Penal Code….According to the Office, ‘[t]he...Office While Collar Crime Unit investigates sophisticated, multi-jurisdictional, multi-defendant theft cases where the total dollar loss is over $300,000.00.’…
“ ‘Theft’ is not a ‘violent’ crime. See Cal. Penal Code § 667.5(c). Without either diminishing the importance of the White Collar Crime Unit or the impact theft crimes have on its victims, ‘white collar” crimes are simply not ‘violent’ crimes as defined under California law and, therefore, it is false and misleading for Archuleta to seek to use a ‘Violent Crimes Prosecutor’ ballot designation when she is not one.”
Archuleta has previously said that she carried a violent crime with her from her earlier assignment and it is the only case she has tried in the past year.
Kim, in his writ petition—prepared by Bradley W. Hertz of the Sutton Law Firm—asserts that while Schreiner is a “Homicide Prosecutor,” he is not a “Gang Homicide Prosecutor.” The petition says:
“In Schreiner’s ballot designation worksheet, he lists four cases that he has apparently handled in the past year, and he creatively attempts to portray them as ‘Gang Murder’ or ‘Gang Homicide’ cases by stating that they ‘involve gang member defendants &/or victims.’…The gang member status of a defendant or victim, however, does not render a case a ‘Gang Murder’ or ‘Gang Homicide’ case and does not render the prosecutor who handles such a case a ‘Gang Murder’ or ‘Gang Homicide’ Prosecutor.”
The petition contends that one of the cases mentioned “is not even a gang case!” It notes:
“In District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s November 23, 2015 news release regarding this case, it is clear that the murder did not involve gangs but instead arose out of a workplace dispute.”
The press release says the defendant fatally shot the victim “at a skylight manufacturing business where both men previously worked together, according to court testimony.”
Schreiner said yesterday that both men were members of the Colonia Watts Gang and that both lived at the manufacturing plant. He related that the defendant claimed that he shot the victim, non-fatally, in self defense “but had to finish him off for fear of other gang members coming after him” if the victim had been able to identify him as the shooter.
He said in a previous interview that the prosecution of homicide cases involving gang members is what he does “primarily,” explaining:
“The gang unit doesn’t prosecute all of those cases. I’m called upon to do those kinds of cases, particularly if they’re difficult ones.”
Kim responded yesterday that cases handled by Schreiner might involve a gang member, but they do not entail allegations under Penal Code §186,22(b).
That section prescribes additional punishment for “any person who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members, shall, upon conviction of that felony.”
He declared that a 186.22 allegation is “what makes it a gang case.”
Schreiner said he might file a petition disputing Kim’s designation, declaring that the only cases Kim has tried in the past year have involved an attempted murder and a robbery.
Kim acknowledged that he has not tried a gang homicide case in the past year but said that he is handling “confidential criminal investigations involving gang murders.”
He said the investigations involve combing through a great deal of evidence, and are time consuming. He related that numerous meetings are held “going over how we file these cases.”
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company