Visiting judge to hear recall case
Jan. 29, 2013 — A visiting Lassen County Superior Court judge will decide if the recall effort against Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson can move forward.
Tom Hammond, one of the recall proponents, filed a petition for a writ of mandate Aug. 10. A writ of mandate is a court order to force a government agency to follow the law by correcting its prior actions or ceasing its illegal acts.
In May Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante rejected about 70 recall petition sheets because they contained a typographical error — a misspelling of one of the proponent’s names. Bustamante said she had previously rejected that form because of the error, but the recall proponents used it anyway. They allege she approved the form with the error for use in the campaign.
Bustamante said a rough count of signatures on the recall documents revealed the campaign had collected enough signatures to force an election, but the campaign failed because she could not accept the incorrect forms.
According to Hammond’s petition, the error is minor and would not affect “substantial compliance with the law.”
Lassen County Counsel, Rhetta Vander Ploeg, said the case, originally assigned to Lassen County Superior Court Judge F. Donald Sokol, was delayed because the court file did not include an administrative declaration, a document similar to a chronological history of the events involved.
Vander Ploeg said attorneys for both sides stipulated an administrative declaration was not necessary, and that stipulation now allows the court proceeding to continue.
Newly elected Lassen County Superior Court Judge Tony Mallery recused himself and referred the case for judicial assignment.
Bustamante’s decision “was contrary to law, an abuse of discretion and in excess of jurisdiction,” Hammond’s pleading reads. “This rejection for a de minimus error not affecting the content of the petition disenfranchises the electors of district 5 (and) thus violates fundamental constitutional rights and is contrary to statute and case law.”
The petition asks the court to compel Bustamante to “accept the wording in the rejected petition sheets, find the petitions were timely filed and initiate the next steps in the recall election of District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson.”
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