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Orange County Digest

Countywide : Calligan Seeks Ruling on Right to Free Speech

April 15, 1986

Linda Lea Calligan continued her election battle against Sheriff Brad Gates on Monday, asking a federal court to rule that her right to free speech was violated when Orange County officials refused to include her critical comments about Gates in a handbook mailed to voters.

Calligan, a sergeant in the Sheriff's Department who is running against Gates, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, asking that a state election law be declared unconstitutional because it allows courts to delete "false and misleading" statements in election pamphlets mailed by the county to registered voters.

Her attorneys also asked the federal court to order the county not to send the pamphlet as printed, because some of Calligan's comments about Gates had been deleted from the pamphlet.

A hearing on the requests was set for today in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge W. Matthew Byrne. Earlier, a state appeals court scheduled a June 18 hearing on the issue, which is 15 days after the June 3 primary election.

Earlier, Gates won a court battle to have statements made by Calligan deleted from the voters' handbook. The statements, focusing on Gates' contempt conviction for not ending overcrowding in the Orange County Jail and other issues, were found to be false and misleading by Superior Judge Judith M. Ryan, and she cited the state law in ordering them deleted from the voters' handbook.

John DiCaro, an attorney for Gates, said Calligan's attorneys "are not doing anything now that they haven't already tried," except for shifting the arena to federal court.

"We're going to oppose (the requests) for sure, strongly oppose them," DiCaro said.

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