Mayor Roger Hedgecock, facing criminal charges stemming from his 1983 mayoral campaign, won a lengthy delay Tuesday in a related, $1.2-million civil lawsuit filed against him and several political supporters by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Milton Milkes granted requests by Hedgecock and one of Hedgecock’s chief supporters, Nancy Hoover, that FPPC lawyers not question the two or subpoena their records until the mayor’s pending criminal case is resolved.
“Here is a case where a defendant’s silence is constitutionally guaranteed,” Milkes ruled. Conversely, the judge barred defense attorneys from initiating the same “discovery” proceedings against the FPPC.
Milkes’ decision, which he said he would review in six months, brought immediate criticism from FPPC Chairman Dan Stanford, who accused Hedgecock of “using every trick in the book” to “hoodwink” the public.
“Our case has been stopped and shut down, and we cannot proceed,” an agitated Stanford declared after Tuesday’s hearing. “Hedgecock and his political cronies have no desire to hear this case in court . . . It’s clear their new tactic is to delay, delay and delay until memories fade, documents can’t be found and the case becomes stale.”
Lawyers for Hedgecock and Hoover argued that it would violate their clients’ rights to answer questions or turn over documents in the FPPC’s lawsuit because that information might be used by the district attorney’s office in prosecuting Hedgecock’s criminal case.
Defense lawyers also requested that Milkes bar FPPC lawyers from questioning potential witnesses in the civil lawsuit. Milkes gave attorneys in the case three weeks to file papers supporting or opposing that request, indicating he would rule on it after receiving them.
Hedgecock faces 15 felony counts and one misdemeanor count, most stemming from allegations that he conspired to funnel tens of thousands of dollars illegally into his 1983 election campaign.
A trial on 13 felony conspiracy and perjury charges ended in a mistrial Feb. 13 when a jury became deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction. A new trial is set for Aug. 22.
In October, the FPPC filed suit against Hedgecock, Hoover, campaign treasurer Peter Q. Davis, political consultant Tom Shepard and former financier J. David (Jerry) Dominelli, alleging charges similar to those contained in the criminal complaint handed down against Hedgecock by the San Diego County Grand Jury. The commission has alleged more than 450 violations of state campaign laws.
Stanford, who flew to San Diego from Sacramento for the hearing, said he doubts that Hedgecock’s second felony trial will begin in August. Hedgecock, he said, has told acquaintances that the trial probably won’t begin before February, 1986.
“It’s defendants just like this one who are giving the judicial process a bad name,” Stanford said. “Everybody’s goal should be to get to the bottom of this case . . . Either (they) laundered campaign contributions or they didn’t. I am sick and tired of delays in this case.”
Stanford said the FPPC was prepared “right now” to select a jury and go to trial.
Hedgecock could not be reached to comment on Stanford’s remarks. Hedgecock’s press secretary, Mel Buxbaum, said the mayor was too busy “running the city” to comment on “that trial nonsense.”
Neither Hedgecock nor Hoover was present at the hearing.