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Allen Ineligible for Assembly, Court Says

Elections: State appeals panel rules that under term limits, the former O.C. lawmaker should not have run in June.

January 05, 1999|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — A state Court of Appeal has ruled former Orange County lawmaker Doris Allen should not have been allowed to run for the Assembly a fourth time in June because she was ineligible under the state's term limits law.

Nor can Allen, who was ousted from office by voters in 1995 in the middle of her third term, run for the Assembly in the future, the court said.

Proposition 140, the term-limit law voters approved in 1990, prohibits anyone from holding an Assembly seat for more than three two-year terms.

The three-judge panel, which signed the opinion Thursday, said the meaning of "term" prohibited Allen's candidacy because she had been elected three times.

Allen had contended that her third term didn't "count" because she was recalled from office before it ended.

The Republican legislator was ousted after crossing her party by making a deal with Democrats to become the first female speaker of the Assembly.

In June, Allen was defeated in the GOP primary by Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach), so the court's ruling has no effect on that race.

The court said Allen's interpretation of the term-limit law "directly conflicts with the purpose of Proposition 140, as manifested by its language, and would lead to irrational results."

The opinion validated the decision by Secretary of State Bill Jones that Allen could not run. She went to court and won a favorable ruling from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Cecily Bond.

Jones appealed. Though her defeat made her eligibility academic, attorneys for Jones argued that the court should rule on the issue because it would probably arise again.

Allen could not be reached for comment Monday. Her attorney, Fredric D. Woocher, said a decision has not been made on whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"We think the court's incorrect in its analysis," Woocher said.

The opinion was signed by justices Fred Morrison, Arthur G. Scotland and Robert K. Puglia. All are Republican appointees to the court. Puglia retired recently to allow Gov. Pete Wilson to appoint his successor.

The panel also ordered Allen to pay the secretary of state's costs for the appeal.

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