Steve Pappas is appealing the result of a lawsuit he filed that contested the results of the election for 3rd District Supervisor on Nov. 5, on the grounds that the judge disallowed crucial evidence before the case even began to be heard in court.

 

The appeal comes following a ruling by Judge William McLafferty, who heard the case in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, and criticized Pappas for filing the lawsuit in the first place, saying that he did not see a shred of evidence that merited the filing.

Pappas’ personal attorney, Stan Green, said in an April 14 e-mail there are several reasons for the appeal. The brief supporting the appeal has not yet been filed, Green said.

Pappas will continue to be represented by the law firm of Theodora Oringher Miller & Richman PC.

Under state elections code, the original suit was filed against Doreen Farr, the current 3rd District Supervisor. The appeal was filed against Farr as well.

Farr’s attorney, Frederic Woocher, had the following to say on behalf of his client: “Our reaction is that this is a frivolous appeal and a continuing abuse of the judicial process by Pappas and his handful of wealthy supporters.”

Pappas’ attorney sees it differently.

“Mr. Pappas believes it is extremely important to appeal the trial court’s decision to assure that HAVA laws and the California Election Codes are followed and that they fairly govern our election system,” Green said.

HAVA is the acronym for the Help America Vote Act, a legislation that streamlined the voter registration process.

Woocher thinks that going back over any of the case will be a waste of time.

“Albert Einstein reportedly said that the definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said. “If Pappas expects to obtain any different result in his appeal than he received in the trial court, then by this definition, he truly is insane.”

The central argument in the original case was that registration of thousands of student voters in Isla Vista and on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in the weeks leading up to the registration was done in violation of county election protocol.

Chief Elections Officer and County Clerk-Recorder Joe Holland and his staff all testified that procedures were followed according to election laws during the four days of case testimony that was heard in March.

One of the primary thrusts of the appeal is the concern raised by Pappas that voter registration cards may have been held past a three-day time frame in which they are supposed to be submitted after being filled out.

McLafferty did not allow any of the details about the three-day issue to be presented as part of the Pappas case.

“I will not consider any evidence about the violation of the three-day rule; that will be a complete waste of our time,” McLafferty said when he ruled on the issue in February.

“One of the most significant issues is the failure of the court to allow testimony of the violation of the three-day rule,” Green wrote.

“Thousands of registration cards were held by persons registering voters well beyond the three-day period. In fact, many of these registrations were among the thousands submitted to the county Register’s Office on the last day to submit registration cards.

“We believe this led to the inability of the Registrar’s Office to properly process new and re-registrants. We further believe that the three-day rule was designed to preclude possible voter fraud as well as to preclude ‘jamming’ the Registrar’s Office shortly before an election,” Green said.

The ‘jamming’ he refers to is the concept of having the county voter registrar being overwhelmed by ballots in the final days before an election.

In court, the elections staff described the volume of submissions they received in late October 2008 as something akin to that.

Woocher argued in court that there is no merit to the argument that not turning in the cards promptly could have influenced the election.

The case is not yet scheduled for a court date.

 

 

Reach Leah Etling at letling@syvjournal.com.