Prosecutor Alan Jackson, a candidate for district attorney, filed a lawsuit this morning to prevent rival candidate Carmen Trutanich from calling himself “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” on the June ballot.
Trutanich claims that his job as L.A. city attorney entitles him to use the “chief prosecutor” label. The city attorney is responsible for filing misdemeanors within the L.A. city limits.
But in the lawsuit, posted after the jump, Jackson alleges that Trutanich is trying to dupe voters into thinking that he is already the district attorney. Jackson calls Trutanich's designation “factually untrue, confusing, and misleading.”
John Shallman, Trutanich's campaign strategist, argued that “Los Angeles Chief Prosecutor” is actually more accurate than using Trutanich's actual title, Los Angeles City Attorney.
“It's more descriptive of what his job is,” Shallman said. “He is the chief of prosecutors in the City of Los Angeles.”
Trutanich's designation is limited by law to three words, and Jackson alleges that all three are misleading. The suit alleges that the word “Los Angeles” could be misconstrued to refer to L.A. County; the word “chief” could be understood to refer to the district attorney, who is responsible for all felony prosecutions in Los Angeles; and the word “prosecutor” could be understood to refer to a front-line prosecuting attorney, rather than an administrator.
The suit also alleges that Trutanich's back-up designation, “Chief Criminal Prosecutor,” is misleading as well.
Shallman argued that Jackson is wasting campaign money on a “frivolous lawsuit.”
“Jackson is spending money like Kim Kardashian's wedding planner,” Shallman said. “This is like a toddler having a meltdown with everything Trutanich does.”
A judge will have to decide whether Trutanich's proposed designations violate the law. District Attorney Steve Cooley, who is supporting Chief Deputy Jackie Lacey, has already said he believes that Trutanich is trying to mislead voters.
Cooley has some experience in this area. In 2010, he successfully sued to block two rivals for the Republican nomination for attorney general from using misleading designations.
Note: At the request of the Trutanich campaign, the document below has been edited to redact Trutanich's home address.