Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Court of Appeal Blocks Chirlin’s Ruling on Compton Election, Orders Perrodin Be Reinstated as Mayor
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
This district’s Court of Appeal yesterday blocked a trial court ruling that had ousted the winner of last June’s Compton mayoral election and put longtime incumbent Omar Bradley back in office.
A day after oral argument, Div. One gave Bradley until 4 p.m. tomorrow to relinquish leadership of the impoverished south Los Angeles County city to Eric Perrodin, who beat him by 281 votes in the June election.
“The writ of supersedeas will serve to prevent irreparable harm to the voters of the City of Compton,” the by-the-court opinion said.
Perrodin will remain mayor until the panel appellate panel rules whether Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin acted properly on Feb. 8 when she awarded the post to Bradley. He took the seat days later.
Bradley had filed a lawsuit, claiming Perrodin won the election by fraud.
Chirlin found the election was fraught with illegality and that Perrodin’s name had been improperly placed first on all ballots, giving him an unfair advantage.
The number of ballots determined at trial to be illegal were not enough to change the outcome, but the judge used a formula based on the “primacy effect”—the advantage of being named first on a ballot—to subtract votes from Perrodin and award them to Bradley.
Perrodin, a deputy district attorney, was not found to have violated election law and much of the illegality in the conduct of the election was blamed on a council candidate.
The appeals court said the significant issues facing the panel were:
•Whether the Compton city clerk complied with procedures to ensure randomization of candidates’ names on the ballot.
•Whether the Election Code includes failure to randomize candidates’ names as grounds for contesting an election.
•Whether the trial court properly applied the “primacy effect” theory to take votes from one candidate and give them to another.
Pending the appeal, the appeals court stayed the trial judgment for Bradley, suspended the certificate of election awarded to Bradley, and reinstated the certificate of election issued to Perrodin.
Bradley’s lawyer, Bradley Hertz, could not be reached for comment.
Perrodin’s attorney, Fredric Woocher, said yesterday he was “thrilled” with the result.
“Bradley had his moment in the sun and now it’s over,” Perrodin said.
Woocher added that it was unclear how long an appeal would take.
“We’re prepared to expedite it,” he said. “But it’s a long record, with a lot of transcripts I would guess it will be a minimum of three to six months.
On Monday, more than 100 people crowded the Court of Appeal hearing room in the Ronald Reagan State Building for the arguments. Both lawyers argued for the court to sustain the “status quo” pending an appeal process that could last months, but while Woocher said that status quo should be “the will of the people” in electing Perrodin, Hertz said it should be Chirlin’s ruling finding fault in the ballot order.
Chirlin’s controversial order reversed the election of Perrodin in favor of Bradley based on testimony by Ohio State University Professor Jon Krosnick. Krosnick said he reviewed the election data and determined that Perrodin received more than 300 votes that otherwise would have gone to Bradley because he, rather than Bradley, was listed first on the ballot.
Hertz argued that Compton City Clerk Charles Davis broke the law by failing to request a randomized alphabet drawing from the secretary of state to determine the proper order of candidate names.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company