Monday, August 27, 2018
Hunter Says If Her Ballot Designation Fails, So Does Michel’s
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Patricia Hunter, locked in battle with Redondo Beach Senior City Prosecutor Sydne Jane Michel for election to Superior Court Office No. 16, on Friday took the stance that either both candidate’s ballot designation is valid or neither is.
Michel on Aug. 20 brought a challenge to Hunter’s chosen designation on the Nov. ballot as “Prosecuting Attorney, City of Los Angeles” on the basis of new language in Elections Code §13107, effective Jan. 1, that a judicial candidate alluding to his or her government position, must use the “actual office title.” Hunter the following day brought a cross-petition for a writ of mandate, arguing that if she may not use the word “Prosecutor,” neither may Michel.
In a reply to opposition to her cross-petition, Hunter said:
“…Hunter agrees that Michel’s actual job title for purposes of her ballot designation is “Senior Deputy Prosecutor, City of Redondo Beach,” if, and only if, Hunter’s actual job title for purposes of her ballot designation is ‘Prosecuting Attorney, City of Los Angeles.’ ”
‘Equal Protection’ Invoked
Her reply, drafted by Bradley W. Hertz and Matthew C. Alvarez of the Sutton Law Firm, argues:
“Petitioner and Cross-Petitioner are opposing candidates with demonstrably identical jobs, who are at risk of receiving disparate and unconstitutional treatment with regard to their ballot designations. The Court’s ruling is fraught with the danger of violating fundamental notions of fair play and equity, and could end up denying Hunter with her constitutional right to equal protection under the law.
Government—whether in the form of the Registrar’s office or the judicial branch—cannot put its proverbial thumb on the scale in favor of Michel and against Hunter, which is what it would be doing if Michel’s petition is granted but Hunter’s is denied. Any situation which permitted one candidate to use a ‘prosecutor’ designation over the other would violate such constitutional principals. [Sic.] Indeed, it should be noted that Hunter would never exhibit the ‘chutzpah’ that Michel is demonstrating—trying to enhance her own designation while diminishing her opponent’s, even while they have the same actual job titles. What Hunter seeks by this Cross-Petition is noble: the ability for voters to conduct an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of Hunter’s and Michel’s job descriptions.1 On the other hand, Michel seeks to game the system by deceiving the voters and suppressing a designation that the Registrar found to be perfectly appropriate as to Hunter.”
Michele has taken the position that she is permitted, under §13107, to use the word “Prosecutor” in her ballot designation because it is part of her “actual office title.” Her reply to opposition, prepared by Fredric D. Woocher of Strumwasser and Woocher, says that Hunter “[f]or almost 30 years….has been employed as a ‘Deputy City Attorney’ and, it appears, “has always considered her job title to be ‘Deputy City Attorney.’ ”
“Hunter now wants to change her ballot designation for the November general election, contending that she has ‘reexamined the applicable facts and law’ and—lo and behold—she has determined that her ‘actual job title’ for all of these years was really ‘Prosecuting Attorney,’ not ‘Deputy City Attorney.’…That is not, however, what the Los Angeles City Charter or Los Angeles Ordinance No. 185289, authorizing the employment of various personnel within the Office of the City Attorney, say her official job title is…; it is not what the Payroll & Special Funds Division of the City Attorney’s Office says her ‘actual job title’ is…; it is not what former colleagues in the City Attorney’s office say her job title is…; and it is undoubtedly not what Hunter’s business card says her job title is….”
The MetNews on Aug. 19 queried both Hunter, and Frank T. Mateljan III, who functions as public information officer for the City Attorney’s Office, as to what title appears on Hunter’s business cards and what title appears below her name on papers she files in court. Neither responded.
A hearing on the petitions is set for Wednesday morning before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, as is a challenge to real estate broker/attorney Michael Ribons’s use of the word “Arbitrator” in his ballot designation.
The matter of Ribons’s designation was set for hearing last Wednesday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, and Chalfant’s tentative ruling was in favor of Deputy District Attorney Javier Perez’s challenge to his election opponent’s reference to his infrequent role in alternate dispute resolution. However, an attorney specially appeared for Ribons to contest jurisdiction, arguing that his client had not been personally served, and requested a judgment of dismissal.
Chalfant continued the hearing to permit a chance for Ribons to be handed the papers his attorney declined to accept.
Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, one of Perez’s lawyers, said Friday that Ribons was, that day, personally served, commenting:
“I can only assume he’s not a happy camper.”
Cooley said Ribons “asserted a questionable claim” of lack of notice and now has “no where to run, no where to hide.”
Brentford Ferreira, who is also representing Perez, said of Ribons:
“He’s been served but we had to catch him leaving his gated community.”
Reacting to Hunter’s reply to opposition, Cooley said:
“Wow, so many clichés I lost count. A dearth of case law!”
Copyright 2018, Metropolitan News Company