Friday, March 16, 2018
Burbank’s Chief of Police Disputes Judicial Candidate’s Stance
Says David D. Diamond’s Service on Police Commission Is De Minimis Activity; Rival Troy Davis Plans to File Writ Petition Today
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Burbank Police Chief
A deputy district attorney who is running for a Los Angeles Superior Court judgeship is readying to file a writ petition today challenging his rival’s ballot designation of “Police Commissioner/Attorney,” and is armed with a declaration by the police chief of Burbank that the unpaid, parttime post of the Burbank commissioner is not an “occupation.”
Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said he is “supporting and assisting Troy Davis,” the deputy district attorney who is contesting the chosen designation of criminal defense attorney David D. Diamond, expressed the hope that a need for court action could be averted. He related that a last ditch effort was being made yesterday to persuade the Office of Registrar-Recorder to back down from its position that the designation meets the statutory criteria.
Davis and Diamond are vying for Office No. 118 in the June 5 primary
Michel’s Designation Approved
As of presstime yesterday, there was no change in position by the county office—but it has, this year, taken late-in the-day actions. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sydne Jane Michel, a candidate for Office No. 16, advised the MetNews by email:
“The Registrar just called. They approved use of my ballot designation: ‘Senior Deputy Prosecutor, City of Redondo Beach.’ ”
That designation had been “under review,” as is that of Onica Valle Cole, a discharged Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office deputy who seeks to run for Office No. 67 as “Consumer Protection Prosecutor.” Also under review was the designation of Ken Fuller, who proposed the designation of “Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles/Captain, U.S. Air Force,” but he notified the Registrar-Recorder’s Office Wednesday afternoon that he would agree to have reference to the second occupation deleted.
Elections Code Section
The controversies have entailed interpretations of Elections Code §13107, as amended by legislation that went into effect Jan. 1.
Diamond is invoking a new provision that permits a legal practitioner to use the word “Attorney” or “Lawyer” in conjunction with “one other current principal profession, vocation, or occupation.”
Under a regulation promulgated by the Secretary of State’s Office, “Attorney” is a “profession,” which is defined as “a field of employment requiring special education or skill and requiring knowledge of a particular discipline.” A question posed by Diamond’s proposed designation is whether his commissionership is an “occupation,” which the California Code of Regulations provision says “means the employment in which one regularly engages or follows as the means of making a livelihood.”
A declaration under penalty of perjury from Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse contests the proposition that serving as chair of the police commission is a means of livelihood for Diamond. It says:
“Mr. Diamond is not paid for his participation on this voluntary, advisory board.”
The declaration also challenges the notion that his participation is a “principal” pursuit. It sets forth:
“The Police Commission meets once a month, except for December, for approximately an hour or two; and on rare occasions, Commissioners may review materials in preparation for the meetings.”
Candidate Troy Davis’s attorney is contending that his client’s rival for a Los Angeles Superior Court seat, David D. Diamond, in using the ballot title “Police Commissioner,” wants to fool voters into thinking he, like Commissioner Gordon in “Batman,” heads a police department.
“I applaud the unpaid volunteers who serve on our Police Commission but cannot verify that service on the commission is a time consuming activity; it is not an occupation or job.”
On his campaign website, Diamond lists LaChasse as an endorser.
In a letter to the Registrar-Recorder’s Office, Troy’s attorney, Brentford Ferreira, raised the question of whether the designation violates §13107’s ban on designations that are “misleading.” He wrote:
“Mr. Diamond is a member of a voluntary advisory board to the Burbank Police Department known as the Police Commission. His designation is an attempt to mislead the public into the belief that he is a government official in charge of the police….
“Mr. Diamond is attempting to equate himself to William Bratton, the highest police official in New York City known as the Police Commissioner, or in the public mind to the fictional head of the Gotham City Police Department. Police Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies.”
Independently of Ferreira adopting that approach, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge said of Diamond’s chosen designation:
“While some would interpret that designation to mean a civilian member of a police oversight board, many others would interpret it to mean the head of a police agency (i.e., NYC, Boston, and our CHP are run by a commissioner rather than a chief).”
Michel’s designation had been submitted pursuant to a new provision in §13107 permitting an “actual job title” for government lawyers, with no word limit. It had been questioned based on a 2006 document listing the title of the post she now holds as “Senior Deputy City Attorney.”
However, she submitted to the Registrar-Recorder’s Office the 2016 Redondo Beach Conflict of Interest Code, listing all employees by job titles, which identifies her as “Senior Deputy City Prosecutor.”
“We also submitted a Declaration from the City Attorney stating, among other things, that he was responsible for hiring me, that I applied for, interviewed for, and was hired for the position of Deputy City Prosecutor and that I was subsequently promoted to and now hold the position of Senior Deputy City Prosecutor of the City of Redondo Beach. That is my ‘actual job title.’ He also took pains to distinguish in detail the ‘Prosecution Division’ which is a separate division within the City Attorney’s Office in Redondo Beach.”
Fuller yesterday explained his agreement that the second part of his proposed ballot designation be dropped by saying:
“In the interests of clarity, collegiality and in good faith, I instructed the registrar to discontinue their review of the ballot designation and to proceed with the designation of Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles. …I sincerely meant no bad faith but was rather advised by an election law attorney… that both government attorney titles were permissible.”
Cooley said that when Fuller phoned him Wednesday asking for an endorsement, he told the candidate of his concern over the ballot designation. He recited that he discussed with him “the new law and how important it is to comply with it.”
The former district attorney said he expressed the hope that Fuller would “do the right thing,” and remarked: “He did.”
Copyright 2018, Metropolitan News Company