March 12, 2013 — A few weeks ago the newspaper opined about the lengthy delay in getting a ruling on a request for a writ of mandate filed in Lassen County Superior Court regarding the effort to recall Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson. Tom Hammond, one of the South County recall proponents who said he would seek Hanson’s seat if the recall effort qualified, filed the request for a writ Aug. 10, 2012 — more than seven months ago this week.
Hammond seeks a judge’s ruling to force the Lassen County Clerk to accept recall petitions she rejected. Without a judge’s ruling in his favor, the recall effort, the second launched against Hanson since Tom Stone, the county’s former administrative officer who was fired in 2011, failed to collect enough signatures and is finished.
Last week, during a telephone conversation, a local attorney commented on the newspaper’s editorial and offered a different perspective on the matter. Believe it or not, the attorney said the system is working exactly as it should.
The attorney readily acknowledged seven months is a long time to wait for a decision in such a matter, and that is unfortunate. But now that the case has been assigned to a visiting judge, that judge rightly should take as much time as needed to review the court file and any case law that may apply. The attorney pointed out the parties and the public deserve a learned, informed and impartial decision from the judge, and it may take many hours of study and research before the judge can determine the proper resolution of this case. There are many elements for the judge to consider, and this may not be an easy open-and-shut case to decide.
Seven months may be a long time to wait, but this new judge has only had the case for about a month, and it’s not unusual to wait that long or longer for a decision, especially if one considers the visiting judge also has a calendar of other cases to move through the system. The attorney suggested the newspaper’s editorial may have gotten the judge’s attention and helped speed up the process a little bit, but the newspaper and the public need to be patient and grant the court the time it needs.
Public opinion should not affect the judge’s review of the case, but this attorney also said whatever decision the judge makes, it will be unpopular with a certain segment of the population. Hopefully, these political issues will not affect the judge’s ruling. In fact, the attorney said the political nature of the case may make the judge even more cautious and deliberate when considering the issues before him.
But in the end, the local attorney said it’s wonderful to live in a country that has a legal system that allows a method of recourse for both sides to settle their differences, a country where the people have the right to redress their grievances against the government in a fair and public way.
The recall proponents believe their position is correct. The county clerk believes her actions are correct. Under our system of justice, the recall proponents filed a request for a writ of mandate, the county responded and now we’re waiting for a judge to rule.
According to this attorney that’s how it should be. We all need to be a little more patient and recognize the system is working exactly as it should.
Fair enough. But we still urge the court to resolve this case as soon as possible. Seven months remains an awfully long time to wait for a ruling.
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