Eastman loses battle over ballot designation

Chris Rizo Apr. 1, 2010, 4:59pm

John Eastman (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California attorney general hopeful John Eastman on Thursday lost his lawsuit to call himself an "assistant attorney general" in voter materials.

Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University Law School Law in Orange, sought to use the ballot designation in the June 8 Republican primary.

His request was rejected by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, who said the title could potentially confuse voters. Eastman then filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court, challenging Bowen's decision.

You see, Eastman is not an assistant attorney general in the California Department of Justice, but rather he is currently acting outside counsel for the South Dakota attorney general's office.

Since taking a leave from Chapman University, Eastman has been working on a U.S. Supreme Court case on behalf of South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley. The case involves a state prisoner who is challenging the way kosher food is prepared at the state's correctional institution.

In his ruling, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley said Eastman could not go by "assistant attorney general"
or by and an alternative sought by Eastman: "Taxpayer Advocate/Attorney," saying it is not a true reflection of his occupation.

Rather, the court accepted the title "Constitutional Law Attorney," which has been agreed upon by Eastman and the secretary of state's office.

"With the impending deadline to prepare ballots for the election, we have agreed with the Secretary to accept this very strong designation," said Eastman strategist Jeff Flint. "Now the initial skirmish among the candidates can end, and the real issues of who is best suited to this important office can begin."

For political candidates who are not in office, their ballot designation is limited by California Elections Code §13107.

The statute says that their ballot designations may be "no more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents."

Also running for the GOP attorney general nomination is Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and state Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach.

On the Democratic side is a crowded field that includes San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, state Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico and Assemblymen Ted Lieu and Pedro Nava.

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Organizations in this Story

California Department of Justice
1300 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814

U.S. Supreme Court
1 First St NE
Washington, DC 20543

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