Tuesday Feb. 19, 2013 Editorial • Judge needs to rule on recall writ

Publisher’s note: This editorial originally published in the Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 edition of the Lassen County Times.

So, just how long should it take to get a ruling from the Lassen County Superior Court?

Tom Hammond, one of the proponents seeking the recall of Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson, filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the court seven long months ago — on Aug. 10 to be exact. A writ of mandate is a court order to a government agency to follow the law by correcting its prior action or ceasing its illegal acts.

In May Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante rejected about 70 recall petition sheets because they contained a typographical error — a misspelling of one of the proponent’s names. Bustamante said she had previously rejected that form because of the error, but the recall proponents allege she approved the form with the error.

The recall campaign collected enough signatures to force a recall election if the rejected forms are approved. So, Hammond took the county clerk to court.

The case originally was assigned to superior court judge F. Donald Sokol, but he did not issue a ruling because the court file apparently was incomplete, according to Lassen County Counsel Rhetta Vander Ploeg. She said attorneys from both sides have cleared up that issue.

Newly elected superior court judge Tony Mallery recused himself and referred the case for judicial assignment after he took the oath of office in January, but as February tumbles headlong into March the people still don’t have an answer.

This matter can only be resolved by a ruling from a judge who has studied the issue and made a learned, informed and impartial decision.

The hundreds of Lassen County citizens who signed the recall petitions, the county clerk and Hanson himself deserve to have this matter resolved once and for all.

Justice delayed is justice denied. The people of Lassen County deserve a judicial decision on this matter as soon as possible, and we encourage the court to give this case its immediate attention.  A ruling is long overdue.