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On 2nd Thought, Court Decides to Think Again

June 27, 1991|MIKE WARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The appellate judges giveth, and the appellate judges taketh away.

A June 3 decision in favor of political gadfly Al Ramirez, convicted of disrupting a Pomona City Council meeting in 1989, has been withdrawn by judges in the Appellate Department of Los Angeles Superior Court, who say they now want to rethink the matter.

The Appellate Department on June 18 granted a motion by the district attorney's office for a rehearing in the case and vacated its earlier judgment.

The appellate panel had originally reversed Ramirez's Pomona Municipal Court conviction on grounds that one of the potential jurors was improperly excluded by the prosecution simply because she was unemployed.

In a motion asking for a rehearing, Deputy Dist. Atty. Arnold T. Guminski argued that the unemployed are not a distinct group whose exclusion from a jury panel is subject to challenge. And the defense had failed to raise that issue in its appeal anyway, he argued. Guminksi pointed out that the defense challenge was based on a claim that people with Spanish surnames--not the unemployed--were unfairly rejected for jury service. The potential juror who was excluded was both Latina and jobless.

Ramirez, who was convicted of disrupting the council meeting by shouting at Mayor Donna Smith, said by telephone from his home in Hemet, where he now lives, that he welcomes the decision by judges to reconsider the case.

Ramirez said he did not want to win the case on the technical issue of jury selection, but hopes the judges will now look beyond that issue to examine his claim that his conviction violates his right to free speech.

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