A judge today ruled that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was trying to mislead voters when he anointed himself "Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor."
Judge Joseph Kalin ordered a change on the ballot for L.A. County district attorney. Trutanich will now be referred to as "Los Angeles City Prosecutor."
Prosecutor Alan Jackson sued to block Trutanich from using his original designation, or his back-up choice, "Chief Criminal Prosecutor." Jackson argued that voters could be led to believe that Trutanich is already the L.A. County district attorney.
Though Kalin ruled in Jackson's favor, he did not go as far as Jackson's attorney would have liked. Both sides ended up claiming victory.
"The court agreed that Mr. Trutanich was misleading the voters yet again," said John Thomas, Jackson's campaign manager. "This guy is a pathological liar. This shouldn't have been an issue, but we're pleased the judge agreed with us."
Jackson's attorney, Stuart Leviton, argued that it was misleading for Trutanich to claim to be a prosecutor, because he does not appear in court. The city attorney's office prosecutes misdemeanor cases within the city limits, but does not handle felonies. Leviton suggested that Trutanich be required to use his actual title: Los Angeles City Attorney.
But Kalin did not adopt that argument, ruling only that two of three words in Trutanich's title were misleading: "Los Angeles" and "chief."
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Trutanich's attorney, Stephen Kaufman, suggested solving that problem by switching to "Los Angeles City Prosecutor," and the judge agreed. The word "prosecutor" is important, because voters tend to prefer "prosecutors" to "attorneys."
"We're very pleased with the outcome," Kaufman said outside court. "The judge agreed that Carmen Trutanich is the prosecutor for the city of Los Angeles."
Update: If you thought this would teach Trutanich a lesson about shading the truth, you are naive. In a statement, his campaign crows: "It's another victory in court for Carmen Trutanich."
Sorry, no. The judge ruled that two of the three words in Trutanich's ballot title were misleading, and ordered it changed. In other words, Trutanich already has a high lie-to-word ratio of 2:3, and is pushing it closer to 1:1.