Thursday, August 9, 2018
Challenge to Becerra’s Eligibility for A.G. Post Goes to State High Court
Justices Seek Immediate Informal Briefing
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles attorney Eric P. Early yesterday filed a petition in the California Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeal’s denial of a writ petition challenging eligibility of Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be a candidate for his present post in the Nov. 6 election, asking that the high court hold up election deadlines so it can decide the issue.
The high court did take immediate cognizance of the filing, calling for opposition by 4 p.m. today and a reply by noon tomorrow. The justices’ call for informal briefing was conveyed to counsel by Jorge E. Navarrete, the Supreme Court’s clerk and executive officer.
Early’s lawyers—former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, and Long Beach attorney Brentford Ferreira, and himself—note in the petition that July 18 was the last day for placing a candidate statement in the statewide voter information guide. That guide must be on public display from July 24 through Aug. 13.
The petition seeks “an immediate stay of the dates set for the purchase of ballot statements and the public display of the voter information guide in order to give this Court adequate time to decide this petition prior to the date necessary for the printing of the voter guide, August 13, 2018.”
Elections Code §13314(a)(3) is cited, which says that in ballot contests, “The action or appeal shall have priority over all other civil matters.”
Government Code Section
Early, who came in last in a four-way contest in the June 5 primary for the office of attorney general, ties his challenge to Becerra’s eligibility on the wording of Government Code §12503, which provides:
“No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.”
Although Becerra has been admitted to practice since 1985, Early contends that Becerra’s inactive status from Jan. 1, 1991 to Jan. 1, 2017 renders him unqualified for the post of attorney general under the statute.
Cannot Meet Standard
The petition sets forth:
“This petition presents an issue of first impression of utmost importance to the General Election to be held on November 6, 2018. Government Code section 12503 sets the minimum standard for a person to rim for Attorney General of the State of California., requiring five years of admission to actually practice law immediately prior to the election. Candidate Xavier Becerra does not and cannot meet this minimum standard, as he will have only been actually admitted to practice law for one year, ten months, and five days immediately preceding the election, with the balance of the five years spent in ‘inactive’ status where the practice of law is prohibited and criminally sanctionable.”
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Becerra, who was a member of the House of Representatives, to the post of attorney general to replace Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate, Becerra took office as attorney general on Jan. 24, 2017.
He garnered the greatest number of votes in the primary and retired El Dorado Superior Court Judge Steven Bailey came in second.
Yesterday’s petition for review was preceded by writ petitions in the Sacramento Superior Court and the Third District Court of Appeal. In none of the filings has there been an indication of whether the effort is aimed at getting Bailey elected outright, substituting Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones—who drew the third largest number of votes in the primary—as Bailey’s opponent, or requiring a special election.
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