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Weiss rips rival for defending sea lion shooter

City attorney candidate Carmen Trutanich countered that even people who 'do stupid things' deserve legal representation, referring to a case he took on several years ago.

February 19, 2009|Maeve Reston

Los Angeles city attorney candidate Jack Weiss criticized his chief rival Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich on Wednesday for representing a man accused of shooting at sea lions.

As a private lawyer several years ago, Trutanich represented John Gary Woodrum, a charter boat captain who ultimately admitted to firing a rifle at sea lions near Santa Catalina Island. Federal undercover agents said in court documents that they saw Woodrum shoot the animals while on the boat in October 2004 in violation of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Woodrum pleaded guilty in early 2005 to two misdemeanor counts of illegally shooting at a marine mammal. A federal judge placed the Harbor City man on probation for a year and ordered him to pay $5,000 and do 250 hours of community service at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro.

Weiss' campaign put out a news release Wednesday quoting Adi Liberman, an environmental consultant and former executive director of Heal the Bay, as stating Trutanich's defending Woodrum raised questions about his credentials as an environmental attorney.

When asked why he took the case, Trutanich said Woodrum "came into the office and I represented him." He said Woodrum is now a "born-again animal rights activist. People do stupid things sometimes -- what can I tell you -- but it doesn't mean they're not entitled to an attorney," he said.

Trutanich's campaign consultant, John Shallman, called Weiss' release "another desperate political smear" and said Trutanich "took a local fisherman who committed a despicable crime against an animal and had him plead guilty and take responsibility . . . . "

"Trutanich made sure he was punished and performed community service at a marine mammal rescue center, where he was forced to care for injured seals and sea lions," Shallman said. He "learned a valuable lesson and now can serve as an example to others who might think about engaging in such wrongful conduct."

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maeve.reston@latimes.com

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