Reid & Hellyer Client Victorious in High Profile District Attorney Case

April 13, 2010

Superior Court Judge Lillian Y. Lim sided with Reid & Hellyer lawyers representing Riverside Judge Paul Zellerbach in his campaign to unseat incumbent Rod Pacheco as Riverside County District Attorney.

Daniel Katz was one of the attorneys that represented Zellerbach in the case centered around statistics cited in his campaign statement -- to be printed in the official June 8 election booklet -- that less than 45% the cases prosecuted by Pacheco's office have resulted in verdicts of guilty as charged.

Lawyers hired by the Pacheco campaign filed a petition for mandate under the California election code, hoping to strike Zellebach's reference to the statistics --which compare unfavorably with the 69% rate achieved by Pacheco's immediate predecessor, Grover Trask.

The lawsuit, filed in the name of Pacheco supporter Ruben Rasso, claimed that Zellerbach's statistics were false or misleading or an improper attack on Pacheco, whose own candidate statement cites a "conviction rate" of over 90% counting all the cases filed, which include all plea bargains or verdicts of lesser charges.

workingmasthead.jpgThe case was reported in the April 12 issue of the Press-Enterprise.

The lawsuit also alleged that Zellerbach's ballot statement fell outside the bounds of what is legally permitted because it was not a reference to Zellerbach's qualifications, and because it referenced Pacheco's qualifications. Election law limits a candidate's ballot statement to his or her personal background and qualifications, and bans candidates from referencing other candidates in their ballot statement.

Noting case law cited in Reid & Hellyer's response to the lawsuit, Lim wrote that

"...a candidate's qualifications include his ideas and not just his pedigree. A candidate's ideas have no meaning unless put in the context of perceived problems that need to be resolved. The Court concludes a candidate seeking election to the Office of the District Attorney may appropriately disclose the percentage of defendants convicted of all charges following trial and offer the opinion he would increase that conviction rate because of his efficiency and effectiveness."

As the case was about an election matter, it received priority status and was heard in an expedited manner. The campaign issue is whether Riverside County criminal trials, which consume more than half of court resources, are being efficiently selected and tried.

Daily Journal.gifThe case was also reported in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (subscription required), an April 12 story by the North County Times, and in a half hour radio interview on KTIE 590 AM, The Talk of the Inland Empire.

Reid & Hellyer Senior Attorney Daniel E. Katz, whose practice regularly includes writs and extraordinary relief, helped produce written pleadings that convinced the court that Zellerbach's position was correct, without need to even call the witnesses who were subpoenaed to prove the truth of his statement.

Headquartered in Riverside, Reid & Hellyer has been serving the Inland Empire for more than 100 years as one of the most-respected full service law firms in Southern California, providing legal services in business and real estate litigation, real estate development, transactional and media law, bankruptcy, mediation and civil rights. Reid & Hellyer serves individual and business clients of national, regional and local prominence. Learn more at www.rhlaw.com.

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