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Judge's ruling not to move up hearing may end disqualified H.B. city attorney candidate's chances of making the November ballot

Judge's ruling not to move up hearing may end disqualified H.B. city attorney candidate's chances of making the November ballot
Huntington Beach lawyer Jerry Friedman was disqualified from running for city attorney because he didn't graduate from a law school accredited by the American Bar Assn. That is one of four city requirements to run for the post. (File Photo)

A Huntington Beach city attorney candidate the city disqualified from running for the office may have to wait until at least the next election cycle to get his name on the ballot after an Orange County Superior Court judge Friday denied his request to expedite a hearing challenging the city’s position.

Jerry Friedman, who earned his law degree at the University of West Los Angeles in 2013, was disqualified by City Clerk Robin Estanislau on July 30 because he didn't graduate from a law school accredited by the American Bar Assn., one of the four requirements to run for Huntington Beach city attorney.

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About a week later, Friedman’s attorney, Christine Kelly, petitioned the California Supreme Court for an order to stop the city from enforcing the rule and to reinstate him to the race. Kelly contends the accreditation requirement is “unique, arbitrary and capricious” and violates Friedman’s “fundamental right to hold elected office.”

The case was passed down to the state 4th District Court of Appeal, and a hearing was scheduled for Sept. 21 in Orange County Superior Court.

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But for Friedman to be able to make the ballot, Kelly needed to try to move up the hearing to beat the Orange County registrar of voters’ Sept. 11 cutoff date.

However, on Friday, Judge Robert Moss denied that request, meaning that whatever happens at the hearing, Friedman “more likely than not” will have to sit out this election unless the city “chooses to do the right thing,” Kelly said in an interview. Filing an appeal isn’t an option, she said.

Friedman said he was “outraged” that Huntington Beach has obstructed his “every effort to get on the ballot.” But he hasn’t lost hope, he said.

“The court has the power to order the ballots be reprinted if it [rules] in your favor,” he said.

City Attorney Michael Gates, who is seeking reelection in November, has called Friedman’s legal action “politically motivated” and “inappropriate” and said it doesn’t make sense to challenge only one of the four requirements.

Moss’ ruling “suggests the end of the line for Friedman,” Gates said Friday.

Kelly, referring to Gates, said, “If a candidate is confident in his abilities, he wouldn’t mind having an opposition.”

This is Friedman’s second dispute with the city this year. In April, Gates took legal action intended to stop Friedman’s client Daniel Horgan from circulating a petition seeking to put a proposal on the local ballot to ban semiautomatic and automatic guns in Huntington Beach. Gates argued that Horgan’s proposal was “unconstitutional, invalid and not entitled to a place on the ballot.”

Friedman hit back in May by filing a motion accusing the city of violating his client’s free-speech rights.

At the end of May, Gates asked the court to drop the city’s lawsuit after learning that Horgan wouldn’t submit signatures from his gun petition, making the case moot.

In July, Friedman filed a court motion seeking $14,385 from the city for 46 hours of work on behalf of his client. A judge denied his request Aug. 3.

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