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Grumbling in Race for L.A. District Attorney

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A candidate for Los Angeles district attorney claims in Superior Court that a rival - the L.A. city attorney - tricked voters by misrepresenting himself in his ballot description as a criminal prosecutor with authority outside the city.

Alan Jay Jackson sued City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and L.A. County Registrar-Recorder-Clerk Dean Logan.

Jackson claims Trutanich is listed on the ballot as a "Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor," a description which is "factually untrue, confusing, and misleading."

As city attorney, Trutanich could - and should - have listed his true job description on the ballot, Jackson claims.

"California Elections Code Section 13107(b)(1) requires Logan to reject any proposed ballot designation that 'would mislead [a] voter,'" the complaint states. "Moreover, '[e]ach proposed principal profession, vocation or occupation submitted by the candidate must be factually accurate, descriptive of the candidate's principal profession, vocation or occupation, must be neither confusing nor misleading, and must be in full and complete compliance with Elections Code § 13107 and the regulations of this Chapter.' Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 20714(c). Trutanich's proposed ballot designations 'Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor' and 'Chief Criminal Prosecutor' are misleading, factually inaccurate, and confusing, and, therefore, prohibited under Section 13107(b)(I) and the applicable regulations cited herein."

Jackson claims that Trutanich's ballot description "neither constitutes Trutanich's principal occupation or vocation," and that the city attorney "does not, in fact, personally prosecute" any criminal cases

"As City Attorney, Trutanich is at most the 'titular' supervisor of those who actually carry out this work," the complaint states. "Trutanich does not suggest otherwise in his ballot designation worksheet. As such, for purposes of a ballot designation, Trutanich cannot properly describe himself as a prosecutor of any kind."

Jackson adds: "In addition to the preceding defects with Trutanich's ballot designation, Trutanich's use of the geographic designation 'Los Angeles,' without qualification, is inherently misleading. Trutanich is running for Los Angeles County District Attorney. By proposing a ballot designation using 'Los Angeles,' without qualification, Trutanich is improperly trying to mislead voters into believing that he is currently the 'Chief Prosecutor' for the County of Los Angeles, when in fact as Los Angeles City Attorney, Trutanich has no authority beyond the bounds of the City limits (Los Angeles City Charter § 271). Trutanich should be prohibited from attempting to mislead voters in this regard."

Jackson claims it is "inherently misleading" for Trutanich to claim that he is a "chief" prosecutor for the city.

Jackson claims Logan erred by approving Trutanich's ballot description, and because the deadline for printing ballots is April 16, the clerk has time to rectify his mistake in time for the June election.

"If Trutanich's ballot designation is not changed, petitioner and all voters in the County of Los Angeles will be irreparably harmed because Trutanich's use of the designation 'Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor' as his ballot designation is factually untrue, confusing, and misleading," the complaint states.

No incumbent is competing in the six-horse race district attorney, which prosecutes tens of thousands of felony cases every year.

Jackson is represented by Stuart Leviton with Reed & Davidson.

Neither Jackson nor the City Attorney's Office responded to requests for comment.

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