Orange County election officials have been ordered to add to the November ballot the name of a Costa Mesa lawyer seeking to replace disgraced Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline, who faces felony child pornography and molestation charges.
Before last week's ruling by Superior Court Judge John C. Woolley, the election to succeed Kline looked a foregone conclusion. Only the name of Dana Point attorney John Adams was to appear on the ballot, after Kline's successful bid to withdraw from the race.
But Woolley ordered the county's registrar to also include attorney Gay Sandoval, the third-highest vote-getter in the March 5 primary, behind Adams and Kline. In the early 1980s, Sandoval worked in the district attorney's office, where she prosecuted child molestation cases and worked in the consumer protection and child support enforcement units.
Kline, who remains under house arrest pending the outcome of his criminal cases, successfully argued that remaining on the ballot could undermine his chances of receiving a fair trail. The 61-year-old jurist faces federal charges of possessing pornographic images of children on his home and courthouse computers and state charges of molesting a 14-year-old boy a quarter-century ago. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Kline's attempt to remove his name from the ballot had been given little chance by most legal experts. Election law makes it difficult for candidates to drop out, and judges have rarely ruled on the issue.