Friday, September 9, 2016
Court of Appeal Strikes Death Blow To Schreiner’s Ballot Title Challenge
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Deputy District Attorney
Deputy District Attorney
The Court of Appeal for this district has declined to take up a challenge by Los Angeles Superior Court candidate Steven Schreiner to opponent Debra Archuleta’s ballot designation, assuring that she will appear on the ballot as a “Violent Crimes Prosecutor.”
Court records show that the appellate court last Friday denied Schreiner’s request to expedite the case, effectively mooting it because a ruling would not be made before the Nov. 8 election.
The court said the request for calendar preference was untimely.
“Given that it appears to be agreed that a decision on the merits of the appeal must be rendered on or before September 2, 2016 if it is to be effectuated by the Registrar for the general election, the motion for calendar preference was not filed promptly after the filing of the notice of appeal [on April 18],” the court’s docket entry reads. “As a direct result of the delay in the filing of the motion for calendar preference, it is not possible to prepare and file the record, make provision for a briefing schedule and oral argument, review the briefs, hear argument and decide the appeal on the merits on or before September 2, 2016. The motion for calendar preference is denied.”
Schreiner did not return a MetNews phone call yesterday.
Field of Four
Archuleta and Schreiner, both deputy district attorneys, emerged as the top two candidates in June’s primary. Archuleta topped the field of four with 47 percent of the vote, to Schreiner’s 26 percent.
Schreiner’s ballot designation was and is “Gang Homicide Prosecutor.”
Schreiner filed his writ petition March 18, claiming Archuleta’s designation was inaccurate because she was not a prosecutor of violent crimes. Archuleta promptly filed her opposition, and also filed an anti-SLAPP motion March 30.
Judge Mary Strobel denied the writ by minute order April 5, ruling that Archuleta, although assigned to the White Collar Crimes Division at the time, was entitled to use her preferred description because she spent the vast majority of her time last year and this year working on violent crime cases.
Those included a complex attempted murder case that she brought with her from the Family Violence Division, to which she was previously assigned, along with a number of post-conviction matters.
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. Strobel said Archuleta’s preferred designation “fairly describes one of Archuleta’s ‘primary, main or leading’ professional endeavors both currently and for the calendar year preceding the filing of her nomination documents,” and was thus not false or misleading.
The ruling left pending the anti-SLAPP motion, which could have resulted in an attorney fee award to Archuleta. The motion was taken off calendar, however, on July 1 and withdrawn July 5—the same day Archuleta’s attorneys, with Strumwasser & Woocher, submitted a proposed judgment finalizing the ruling made back in April.
The judgment was entered July 25. Schreiner, represented by Stuart Leviton of Reed & Davidson, appealed it three weeks later.
Two days before he did so, however, he filed a second Superior Court writ petition, seeking the same relief, but applicable to the general election. He raised a new factual issue, noting that Archuleta began a new assignment in July, as a filing deputy in the Charge Evaluation Division.
He argued that the “Violent Crimes Prosecutor” designation was barred because the new assignment does not involve going to court. On Aug. 26, however, Judge Amy Hogue ruled that res judicata/collateral estoppel principles applied, and abated proceedings in the trial court pending the outcome of the now-moot appeal from Strobel’s order.
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company