Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 11, 2023


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C.A. Dismisses Logan’s Appeal of Order; Grants Writ Relief


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean C. Logan yesterday, for the most part, lost his appellate court battle with the Committee to Support the Recall of George Gascón, with Div. Four of the Court of Appeal for this district declaring that he waited too long in challenging a Los Angeles Superior Court order to produce records pursuant to a public records request.

While dismissing Logan’s suit from an order issued Dec. 6, the panel said in an opinion by Justice Audra Mori, that his challenge, in the form of an appeal, from a Jan. 23 order providing supplemental relief, was timely, if treated as a writ petition, which it did.

The upshot was that the appeals court dumped Logan’s challenge to the order granting access to voters’ signatures that were on file and electronic voter lists but agreed with him that two orders of less value to the committee—allowing use of electronic lists outside of the examination room and granting access to voter registration affidavits—were improperly issued.

Mori did not discuss mootness. The phase of the committee’s effort entailing examination of records has ended and it is now seeking, based on what it uncovered, a writ ordering Logan to certify that a sufficient number of signatures were gathered as to require that the Board of Supervisors slate a recall election.

Public Announcement

Logan on Aug. 15, 2022, proclaimed that the committee had collected only 520,050 valid signatures on its recall petitions, which fell roughly 46,000 short of the number of signatures required—10 per cent of the registered voters. The committee sought access to the petitions and other records in an effort to show that it had, in fact, collected a sufficient number of valid signatures but was, it contended in its proceeding under the Public Records Act (“PRA”), impeded by Logan’s office which limited the number of days when it could look at records to three per week and the number of personnel who could be on the premises to 14, and barred use of electronic devices.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant on Dec. 6, while denying some of the relief that was sought, held that the committee could have access to voter signature files in an effort to show that disallowed signatures on the petitions did match up; also ordered that electronic lists of voters be supplied; and declared that electronic devices could be used, subject to a protective order.

Dissatisfied with the level of compliance, the committee sought a clarification that electronic records could be used outside the examination room of the Norwalk office of the Registrar-Recorder’s Office. On Jan. 30, Chalfant confirmed that the electronic records could be used outside the examination room and ordered Logan to produce redacted hardcopy affidavits of registration.

Dec. 6 Order

As to the Dec. 6 order, Mori said:

“We conclude that the exclusive means of challenging an order granting or denying disclosure of records in connection with the examination of an unsuccessful recall petition under the PRA is through [Government Code] section 7923.500, which requires filing a petition for extraordinary writ relief within 20 days of service of written notice of the order’s entry. Because the Registrar did not meet this requirement for the injunction order, we lack jurisdiction to consider any contention challenging it.”

She noted that Logan “has provided no argument on this court’s ability to ignore the jurisdictional time limits prescribed in section 7923.500, subdivision (b).”

Jan. 30 Order

Addressing the Jan. 30 order, the justice wrote:

“[T]he Registrar’s notice of appeal falls within the jurisdictional time limit for the subsequent order directing further disclosure of voter records. We therefore exercise our discretion to consider the Registrar’s challenges to new directives appearing in that order as a petition for extraordinary writ. Exercising our discretion, we conclude that the order improperly commanded the Registrar to (1) authorize use of electronic voter lists outside its examination room, and (2) disclose redacted affidavits of voter registration.”

She noted that Logan contends that Government Code §7924.110 provides a right to “inspect” records but not to remove them and that the committee has not refuted that assertion. Mori wrote:

“Given the lack of argument or supporting evidence to the contrary presented, and based on the constitutional guarantee of voter privacy, we agree with the Registrar’s limited interpretation of section 7924.110.”

Under both a Government Code section and noted an Elections Code provision, voter registration affidavits are “confidential.”

The case is Committee to Support the Recall of George Gascón v. Logan, B326869.


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