By Mike Rubin
Posted on October 21, 2012 by the Website Workers Council
In Field v. Bowen, six candidates and voters challenged two specific aspects of Proposition 14, the elimination of write-in votes in November and the prohibition of party labels on the ballot except for parties that are already ballot-qualified. They lost, and are now being threatened with an order to pay legal costs, not of the defendant, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, but of the wealthy backers of Prop. 14 who joined the suit as interverner-defendants.
Please join us in court this Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9:00 am. San Francisco Superior Court, 400 McAllister at Polk, Room 302. The question before the court will be: Should attorney fees in the amount of $243,000 be imposed on the six plaintiffs in Field v. Bowen, as punishment for challenging in California courts the new anti-democratic election law?
We seek to fill the courtroom to make clear that supporters of basic civil and democratic rights are keenly concerned with the outcome of the proceeding.
Two years ago, the Prop 14 or Top Two new election law banned write-in campaigns and otherwise severely restricted ballot access rights for all third parties. Mona Field and five other plaintiffs, including ballot access expert Richard Winger, sought relief by filing a law suit to challenge this ballot rights atrocity. They lost the suit but were shocked even more when a Superior Court judge imposed $243,000 in attorney fees against them, an unprecedented move. Such fees, under California and federal law can only be imposed on a suit filed in the public interest if it is completely frivolous. Fighting for the right to fully participate in the electoral process is certainly not either!
The demand for fees is the moral equivalent of a SLAPP suit if there ever was one – a chill against all those who would seek to redress legitimate claims against the state.
The Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party of Alameda County (GPAC), and the Libertarian Party have also justly challenged Prop 14 - Top Two as well and could be subjected to the same or worse penalties.
AGAIN Join Us! Wednesday, October 24, San Francisco, 400 McAllister at Polk, meeting outside beginning at 9:00 AM. (The hearing formally begins at 9:30 am but passing through the security apparatus will take some time.)
Please note that Rubin v. Bowen, the court case in which GPAC is a plaintiff, which is being heard in Alameda County, has its next court date on Monday October 29 at 9:00 AM.
Mike Rubin is the lead plaintiff in Rubin v. Bowen, a separate suit challenging Proposition 14 on different grounds, He is active in the Alameda County Green Party. The Peace and Freedom Party is also a plaintiff in Rubin v. Bowen.