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South Bay Digest

Inglewood : Hardeman Trial Near End

September 24, 1987

Attorneys for Garland Hardeman, City Councilman Ervin (Tony) Thomas and the city of Inglewood will present final arguments Friday in the trial of Hardeman's lawsuit seeking to oust Thomas on election code violations.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leon Savitch may rule as soon as Friday afternoon on the challenge to Thomas' 16-vote victory over Hardeman in the June 16 runoff for the 4th Council District. Mark Borenstein, Hardeman's lawyer, has asked that Hardeman be declared the winner in the election or that a new election be held.

Savitch must decide on the merits of Borenstein's argument that at least 63 of Thomas' absentee votes are illegal, far more than the number needed to change the outcome of the election.

Evidence for about 12 of those votes includes witnesses' testimony that Thomas, Mayor Edward Vincent and other campaign workers committed violations such as coercing votes at peoples' homes, punching voters' ballots for them and instructing them to sign the ballots of absent family members.

Other challenges are based on the grounds that ballots bear the names of nonexistent voters or non-residents of the district, that ballot signatures were falsified and that ballots were illegally delivered to the city clerk's office.

Borenstein additionally charges that Thomas should not be allowed to hold office because he is guilty of misconduct during the election.

During the first five days of the trial, Vincent and Thomas testified that they did nothing improper during the campaign. Savitch rejected a motion last week by Robert Stroud, Thomas' lawyer, to dismiss the suit because of insufficient evidence and a claim that Hardeman was not a district resident when he filed suit.

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