Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Kline Needs His Name Off Ballot to Protect Fair Trial Right—Lawyer
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Orange Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline’s right to a fair trial on criminal charges will be imperiled if he is forced to remain a candidate for re-election, his attorney told a Los Angeles Superior Court judge yesterday.
If Kline remains a candidate, Paul Meyer told Judge David Yaffe at yesterday’s status conference, his opponent’s First Amendment right to attack him “runs headlong into Judge Kline’s right to a fair trial” and threatens to contaminate the jury pool.
Kline’s petition to withdraw his name from the Nov. 5 ballot is being heard by Yaffe in his downtown courtroom as an assigned Orange Superior Court judge so that none of Kline’s colleagues have to determine his fate.
Yaffe set an April 24 hearing on the merits.
Kline was arrested last year on federal child pornography charges after a search of his home computer. He was later charged in state court with having molested a child more than 25 years ago, his accuser saying he came forth for the first time after reading of Kline’s arrest in the federal case.
Kline’s arrest came after the filing deadline for the March 5 primary. Although no one else filed for the ballot, a contested primary was set up when voters petitioned for the right to vote for a write-in candidate.
Eleven write-in candidates filed, with one of them—Dana Point attorney John Adams, who received more write-ins than the others combined—finishing 1,200 votes ahead of the incumbent. Costa Mesa attorney Gay Sandoval was a distant third.
Neither Meyer nor Deputy Orange County Counsel Edward Duran, who is representing Registrar of Voters Rosalyn Lever, took a position yesterday on whether Adams would run unopposed or have to face Sandoval in the general election. Neither Adams nor Sandoval was represented, although both have been named as real parties in the proceeding.
Yaffe ordered that they be given notice of the April 24 hearing, but said nothing about their filing briefs.
Duran waived his right to file a brief, saying Lever’s position has been fully set forth in papers filed for yesterday’s conference.
Lever argues that she is bound by Elections Code Sec. 8801 to list Kline as a candidate in the Nov. 5 election, along with Adams. The statute says that “[n]o candidate nominated at any primary election may withdraw as a candidate at the ensuing general election except” that a candidate for partisan office may withdraw if nominated for another partisan office and a Superior Court judge may withdraw if appointed to a state or federal office.
In a separate proceeding, Sandoval has contested the primary election. She argues that Kline is “ineligible” for the office because he is under house arrest and thus cannot come to the courthouse to perform his duties.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company