April 23, 2013 — Our legal system and the rule of law are alive and well right here in Lassen County.
The case of recall proponent Tom Hammond seeking a writ of mandate to compel Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante to move the recall process for Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson forward plainly reveals the adversarial nature of our legal system.
On one side, Bustamante and Lassen County argue the recall proponents used a form the clerk had previously rejected, and therefore the signatures on those forms should not be counted.
On the other side, Hammond argues the error on the rejected form — the misspelling of a proponent’s name — is so minor, the error would not have misled anyone signing the petition. Hammond also alleges Bustamante told members of the recall campaign they could collect signatures on the allegedly rejected recall petition.
Some have characterized the clerk’s position as an effort to thwart the will of the people. Others have characterized her as a staunch defender of the law who was simply performing her responsibility under the law.
While reasonable people might see the value in the argument of one side or the other or maybe even both, a court ruling will sustain one argument and overrule the other. Regardless of one’s view of the conflict, the proper way to resolve such a dispute is to present the matter to a fair and impartial judge who will consider the arguments of both sides and issue a ruling based upon a studied review of the law as it applies to this case.
Pending an appeal by the county of the final ruling made last week by visiting superior court judge Charles H. Ervin ordering the county clerk to accept those recall petitions with the error, verify the signatures of district 5 voters they contain and move the recall process forward if enough qualifying signatures have been collected, we should all accept the judge’s decision.
The two sides have finally had their day in court, and unless the county chooses to appeal Ervin’s ruling, now is the time to accept the wisdom and authority of that ruling and move forward.
This is an excellent example of how our legal system works in our republic. Absent an appeal by the county and assuming the recall proponents have collected enough signatures to qualify for a standalone special election, probably this November, the matter eventually will be decided by the voters in district 5.
We all should support the rule of law — this is exactly how such disputes are resolved in our constitutional republic.
The people have sought a redress of their grievances with their duly elected government, and now the people will get to decide who will best represent their interests on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors.
This is how we settle our differences in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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