Thursday, April 25, 2002
Yaffe Asks for More Briefing on Whether Kline Can Pull Off of Ballot
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Further briefing is necessary before he can determine whether Orange Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline may remove himself from the Nov. 5 general election ballot, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe said yesterday.
Yaffe rejected an argument put forth earlier this month by attorney Paul Meyer, who represents the embattled Kline—that negative publicity stemming from the campaign would imperil Kline’s right to a fair trial on criminal charges of child molestation and possession of child pornography.
Yaffe said in his ruling there were “sufficient procedures available to petitioner in those criminal proceedings to protect his right to a fair trial.” He added that it was “neither necessary nor proper to change what would otherwise be the correct ballot in a general election.”
But the judge asked attorneys to brief an issue raised by Gay Sandoval, an Orange County lawyer who was one of 11 write-in candidates in the March 5 primary—whether a state law prohibiting a nominated candidate from withdrawing applies to Kline, who asked to take his name off the ballot after the primary but before the results were certified.
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 a June 20 hearing on the issue raised by Sandoval, who was present in court yesterday along with Meyer and an attorney for the registrar of voters.
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.
One of the 11—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 Sandoval was a distant third.
Adams was not present yesterday, but Yaffe said he should be made a party through intervention or joinder and ordered that he be given notice of the next hearing.
It has not been determined whether Kline’s removal from the ballot would allow Adams to run unopposed, or whether he would have to face Sandoval in the general election, Yaffe noted. He questioned whether he can even decide that issue, given the limited nature of his assignment to the Orange county court.
The registrar 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 generally precludes a candidate “nominated at any primary” from withdrawing.
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.
That contest has been assigned to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Phillip Hitchcock. But no hearing has been set, and it is not clear whether Hitchcock will hear the matter before Yaffe rules, Sandoval told the MetNews.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company