Thursday, March 20, 2014

Battle of Bogus Ballot Designations goes to Court; ADDA to Co-Host Sheriff's Debate

DDAs Alison Matsumoto Estrada and Amy Carter Challenge Rivals' Bogus Ballot Designations

Our coverage, yesterday, of DDA Helen Kim's bogus ballot designation as a 'Violent Crimes Prosecutor' prompted a rash of comments condemning the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise and the Dragnet for covering the dispute. However, some comments acknowledged that Kim had gone too far and was attempting to mislead voters given that her occupation, a part-time filing deputy in Central Complaints, bears no relation to what one would expect to be the role of a violent crimes prosecutor. One comment analogized Kim's claim to that of a 911 operator claiming to be a "crime fighter."

Kim made a last minute decision to challenge DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada's candidacy Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 76. We speculated that Matsumoto would likely challenge Kim's bogus ballot designation, and it appears that she has.

According to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the dispute over Kim's ballot designation was before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin even while comments on the Dragnet were being posted. In response to a petition filed by DDA Alison Matsumoto Estrada challenging Kim's ballot designation, Judge Lavin issued writ ordering the LA County Registrar-Recorder to strike Kim's misleading ballot designation, or show cause why the ballot designation should stand.

Matsumoto's petition was supported by a declaration from DDA Rob Dver, who describes himself as a "general filing deputy," for reasons that soon become clear. Dver describes the duties of a filing deputy and, significantly, makes the point that, of the cases he reviews, "approximately 40% ... involve alleged thefts of some form, approximately 40% ... involve drugs of some form, and the remaining 20% ... involve other circumstances."

Moreover, Dver points out that "A 'violent' felony has a specific meaning under ... Penal Code Section 667.5(c). I estimate that at most 5% of the cases I evaluate as a general filing deputy involve 'violent' felonies, as that term is defined in the Penal Code."

Finally, Dver asserts that, for the most part, violent felonies "are reviewed for filing by special units or the Victim Impact Program (VIP)," adding that "As a general filing deputy I am not usually involved with these cases."

Kim, being neither assigned to a special unit nor VIP, likely has a similar caseload as Dver (albeit a lighter one, given her part-time status), would appear to have little justification for her 'violent crimes prosecutor' ballot designation.

Some may point out that Dver's assertion is without merit as Kim does not claim to be a 'violent felonies prosecutor' only a 'violent crimes prosecutor.' However, as she is assigned to Central Complaints, it is unlikely that she encounters any 'violent' misdemeanors. If they do exist, they would be within the jurisdiction of the City Attorney's Office.

Kim had until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday to file an opposition and a hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Monday in Department 85, where Judge James Chalfant sits, the Met News reported.

We also mentioned that Judicial candidate DDA Amy Carter has challenged the ballot designation chosen by her rival for Office No. 22, Pamela Matsumoto, who claimed to be an "Administrative Law Judge."

Carter's petition asserts that Matsumoto's ballot designation is false because her current occupation is that of insurance defense attorney, and her temporary assignment as a hearing officer does not comport with the requirements of applicable law.

That challenge will also be heard on Monday, in Department 86 before retired Judge Robert O'Brien, sitting on assignment. O'Brien gave Matsumoto until noon Thursday to file a written opposition.

In other news

The Dragnet has learned that Judicial candidates DDAs Andrew Cooper (Office No. 157) and Dayan Mathai (Office No. 61) have filed challenges to their opponents.

Cooper has challenged attorney Arnold Mednick's use of "Administrative Law Judge," for reasons similar to those raised by Amy Carter.

Mathai has challenged attorney B. Otis Felder's use of "Deputy City Prosecutor" or various permutations thereof, on the basis that Felder was not employed by the City Attorney's Office, but was, rather, a volunteer extern while maintaining his law practice.

ADDA to Co-Host Sheriff's Debate

Mark your calendars. April 17, 2014, the ADDA will co-host the "Battle for Los Angeles County Sheriff" along with several other bar associations at the Hollenbeck Youth Center. This likely signals an intention by the ADDA to endorse one of the seven candidates in the June 3, 2014 primary election.


Anonymous said...

Helen Kim has behaved very poorly in this entire matter, all of which shows she is unfit to be a judge, as the Metro News says. First of all, the whole idea to run for judge was fairly obviously a last minute decision, which is why she spent (wasted) $16k buying places in 8 seats. Why didn't she buy places in all 14 open seats, you may wonder? Then she picks on Alison Matsumoto to run against, for reasons that she won't state, but which look like some form of race-based decision i.e. which name will appeal more to Asian voters. Finally, she uses a completely bogus ballot designation to hide the fact that she's a part time filing deputy. For all these reasons the ADDA should not endorse her, especially as they have already endorsed Alison who, because she had planned her campaign well in advance, had sought and obtained the ADDA's endorsement well before Kim entered the race on a whim. She should drop out of the race.

Anonymous said...

If Rob Dver and the guys in Complaints are "General Filing Deputies," what does that make Tom Higgins? "Field Marshall of Filing Deputies "? Does he get to wear a special hat? Do we have to salute him now ?

Anonymous said...

BTW, has anyone noticed that the picture of Helen Kim in the Metro News is radically different from the one on her website?

Anonymous said...

It's sickening. I liked Alan Jackson. But in his exit from the DA's office he managed to slam the lawyers in central with his gripes about being sent there.

I felt the same way when I saw Allison Matsumoto's case against Helen Kim. God Damn. I know you have an election to win. But why denigrate filing deputies? I know filing deputies who get in the office at the crack of dawn so they can clear out I/O's. Then they take briefcases of cites home on the weekends. You can make your case without portraying the job of filing deputy as a joke.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I do feel sorry for Helen Kim. I am sure she didn't set out to mislead anyone, never mind shine a bright light on her part time status. Helen probably got seduced by the idea that if so many other DDAs can do it (run for judge), then why not me? I'm sure a lot of DDAs have had similar thoughts. She splashed out $16k on buying into 8 open seats, and probably spent around $50k hiring Fred Huebscher as her campaign consultant, and once she was 'invested' there was no going back.

It must have been Fred's idea to use 'violent crimes prosecutor' and even though she probably realized that was a stretch, she had to go along with it; it sounds so good.

She also probably was advised that in a county wide election, where there will be so many other things for voters to decide on, like sheriff and new supervisors, that nobody will be paying much attention to the judges races; they are rarely controversial. But with 16 DDAs running to become judges, that's newsworthy, and with 4 lawsuits over ballot designations due to be heard on Monday, the media smell blood in the water.

People might expect a washed up lawyer who externed at the CA's office to lie about his job, and the former referees too. But a DDA lying? Now that has the media slavering, and that's Kim's worst nightmare.

In allowing herself to be talked into running a deceptive campaign, Kim has marked herself as unfit to be trusted with being a judge. If she had run as 'Deputy District Attorney' nobody would have cared about her being a part timer, but it's all a little too late for that now. This will probably not end well for Kim.

Anonymous said...

10:06pm I don't see this as slamming filing deputies the same way the Jackson managed to insult pretty much everyone in the office who wasn't in Major Crimes. Sure there are a bunch of hard workers in Complaints, but they would be the last people to agree with Helen's grandiose ballot designation as being descriptive of what they do. And don't tell me that Helen, a part timer, is in at crack of dawn to clear out I/Os, any more than she crams her purse with cites to work on at home. Gimme a break.

No. what she has done is not only dishonest, but stupid. People are questioning the whole basis for having part time DDAs thanks to her. If the job is so important, how can it be done part time?

Anonymous said...

Shocking. "crams her purse with cites..." WOW. that is some intense sexist BS. Make your point. Take your shots. But avoid the "Madmen" language and the negative stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

Helen Kim herself has denigrated the position of filing deputy by abandoning it as her ballot designation when it most accurately describes her position.

Anonymous said...

The comment at the top of this web page alleges that Helen Kim's decision to run against Alison Matsumoto was "race based." You can't allege that without discussing the REAL elephant in the room. When most DDA's heard "Alison Matsumoto ESTRADA" their response was "who the hell is that?"

Anonymous said...

The ADDA should endorse both and not partake in Berger and Grace's teen age girl, madmen sexist, mean-girl like immature bullying. I am confident Marc Debbaut and the rest of the ADDA board will rise above and promote all DDAs wanting to be judge. Kim and Estrada are playing a game to get a better job, everyone knows it. If you don't play wisely, you lose and why play. Most likely they, like the other 16 want out of the DAs office that is swirling the drain pipe. The office has done nothing about this blog that questions a DDAs professional ethics and obligation to portrey oneself as a professional. Start slamming the administration and they would shut you down. As long as you a smooching the queen, she smootches back and lets this fiasco continue. Ah well, let the entertainment continue... on the tax payers dime...

Anonymous said...

7:58am, the ADDA is formulating a policy on endorsements for situations where one DDA running is against another, but this situation is more complex. 1) Alison approached the ADDA for endorsement long before Helen jumped in, and 2) Helen has not sought the ADDA's endorsement, and 3) now that Helen's ballot designation has become an ethical issue, an endorsement for Helen would become a de facto endorsement of her ballot designation.

For those reasons I doubt the ADDA will support Helen.

As to the continued lack of action by the administration in silencing Berger, I am glad he continues to be as much of an irritant to them as he is to the ADDA crazies, you, and others who want their sins to fly under the radar. The Dragnet is a hugely entertaining source of water cooler gossip and long may it continue.

Anonymous said...

11:26am, if what you say about Helen Kim not getting the ADDA endorsement is true, then why hasn't the ADDA said so? I checked their website and there is no mention of any endorsed candidates. Mind you, the Presidents Message still is Donna McClay's. Funny how the Dragnet that 7:58am wants to silence has more news about the ADDA that the ADDA has.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the degree of qualifications. Their success at convictions is all that matters. And no light sentences either.