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Judge Thomas Clings to Title in Ballot Data

August 14, 1986|KIM MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

Despite her controversial ouster as presiding judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court, Maxine Thomas still claims to hold the job in a statement of qualifications scheduled to be mailed to voters with their sample ballots.

The candidate statement submitted only hours before last Friday's printing deadline refers to Thomas as "Presiding Judge--Los Angeles Municipal Court (largest in America)," a claim that Thomas' lawyer said Wednesday was "clearly an error."

The statement that Thomas herself had drafted for the sample ballot made it clear that she was the former presiding judge, but that statement was "mislaid" when Thomas left town last week and her representatives had to quickly draft a new one, attorney Geraldine Green said.

Legal Action Planned

Representatives of Thomas' opponent for a seat on the Superior Court, Burbank Municipal Judge Bernard Kaufman, said they will seek a court order removing the description from the statement of qualifications.

"I'm not trying to make a big deal about it, but it is misleading," said Kaufman's campaign consultant, Joseph Cerrell. "Bernard Kaufman has been the presiding judge in Burbank, but I wouldn't have thought twice about claiming he was the presiding judge."

Thomas was removed as presiding judge June 25 on a 57-13 vote of her colleagues, who complained privately of absenteeism and favoritism in court assignments.

She has already agreed to describe herself as judge of the Municipal Court on the ballot itself, and had intended to do so on the statement of qualifications as well, Green said.

Earlier Statement

The statement is essentially the same as the one distributed to voters before the June primary election, which referred to her as the presiding judge "leading over 100 judges and commissioners."

In this version, however, the ing has been crossed out from leading, a move that Kaufman's representatives interpret as a half-hearted attempt to change the description to the past tense.

Green called it "obviously a typo. . . . Anybody reading that, I think, with average intelligence would see that it's supposed to be led ," she said.

In any case, she said, the campaign worker who submitted the statement never found the new wording that Thomas had intended for distribution.

"Friday was the last day (to submit the statement) and they panicked," she said. "They rushed down and tried to improvise."

A spokeswoman for the county registrar of voters said the registrar has no authority to change candidates' statements without a court order. The mailing will go to the printer Sept. 8, she said.

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