CORONA DEL MAR — Attorney Donald Segretti, who served 4 1/2 months in a federal penitentiary for "dirty tricks" during Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign, is running for an Orange County Superior Court judgeship.
Segretti, who has kept a low profile since his 1974 misdemeanor conviction, said Thursday that friends encouraged him to run for the seat being vacated by Judge Floyd H. Schenk.
"I had name recognition 25 years ago," the 53-year-old attorney said Thursday from his Newport Beach office. "This is a way I believe I can make a positive contribution. I really do believe that."
In 1974, the Los Angeles-born Segretti pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of distributing political literature without attribution. He is associated with an infamous letter written on former U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie's stationery denigrating blacks and accusing other presidential candidates of sexual misconduct.
Segretti was not part of the break-in at the Watergate hotel, but was part of the effort by the Nixon campaign to discredit Democratic presidential candidates. Segretti pleaded guilty and served time in Lompoc Federal Prison.
In 1976, the State Bar of California suspended Segretti's license to practice law for two years and recommended that he retake a section of the bar exam relating to professional responsibility and legal ethics. State law allows someone convicted of a misdemeanor to run for a judgeship if his record has been clean for at least 10 years.
The other four candidates for the seat in the March 26 election are Court Commissioner Clancy Haynes, Orange County assistant Dist. Atty. Tom Dunn and attorney and community college trustee Nancy Ann Pollard.