News

Persky ordered to pay recall campaign attorney's fees

Judge rules in favor of recall Monday

Ousted judge Aaron Persky has been ordered to pay $161,825 to the attorney who represented pro bono the campaign that successfully recalled Persky in the June election.

Kay Tsenin, a retired San Francisco judge brought in to hear the case, ruled in the recall campaign's favor in a Monday hearing in San Jose, Fredric Woocher of Los Angeles firm Strumwasser & Woocher confirmed.

Campaign chair and Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber filed a motion in June, arguing that she is "entitled to an award of attorneys' fees for successfully defending the validity of the recall petition and thereby vindicating the constitutional right of recall of tens of thousands of Santa Clara County residents and voters."

The motion fell under a California statute that allows a successful party to be reimbursed by the opposing litigant for attorney's fees if the case enforces "an important right affecting the public interest."

Persky's lawyers argued that there was no need for a private attorney in this case and that his defense "had no practical effect" on the June 5 recall vote, legal documents show.

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Dauber initially requested Persky pay the $112,456 the campaign incurred in attorneys' fees and out-of-pocket expenses to respond to legal challenges the former judge filed during the recall effort. The amount increased to cover fees Woocher incurred working on this motion.

Woocher said he offered to settle the fees at the outset of the case but Persky and his attorneys "were not interested" and "vigorously opposed" Dauber's motion.

In a statement, one of Persky's lawyers, Elizabeth Pipkin of San Jose firm McManis Faulkner said, "it is unfortunate that this coincides with the loss of his job as a distinguished jurist."

McManis Faulkner represented Persky for free, she said.

Santa Clara County voters recalled Persky in the June 5 election after a contentious, divisive campaign that drew national attention. Months before, Persky sought to block the recall by arguing the secretary of state, rather than the county Registrar of Voters, should oversee the recall, and that the replacement for a recalled judge should be appointed by the governor rather than elected. A judge ultimately ruled against him.

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Woocher said his firm agreed to represent the recall campaign free of charge "with the understanding that we would be entitled to seek our attorney's fees" and the "fairly certain" belief that they would ultimately succeed. About half of his firm's litigation are public-interest cases where they charge no or reduced fees, he said.

Woocher noted that Persky's lawsuit included the same claim for recouping attorney's fees if he were to prevail.

"We're very hopeful that it's over now," Woocher told the Weekly. "We just want what we think the law entitles us to and what he asked for when he thought he was going to win the case."

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Persky ordered to pay recall campaign attorney's fees

Judge rules in favor of recall Monday

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 11:37 am

Ousted judge Aaron Persky has been ordered to pay $161,825 to the attorney who represented pro bono the campaign that successfully recalled Persky in the June election.

Kay Tsenin, a retired San Francisco judge brought in to hear the case, ruled in the recall campaign's favor in a Monday hearing in San Jose, Fredric Woocher of Los Angeles firm Strumwasser & Woocher confirmed.

Campaign chair and Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber filed a motion in June, arguing that she is "entitled to an award of attorneys' fees for successfully defending the validity of the recall petition and thereby vindicating the constitutional right of recall of tens of thousands of Santa Clara County residents and voters."

The motion fell under a California statute that allows a successful party to be reimbursed by the opposing litigant for attorney's fees if the case enforces "an important right affecting the public interest."

Persky's lawyers argued that there was no need for a private attorney in this case and that his defense "had no practical effect" on the June 5 recall vote, legal documents show.

Dauber initially requested Persky pay the $112,456 the campaign incurred in attorneys' fees and out-of-pocket expenses to respond to legal challenges the former judge filed during the recall effort. The amount increased to cover fees Woocher incurred working on this motion.

Woocher said he offered to settle the fees at the outset of the case but Persky and his attorneys "were not interested" and "vigorously opposed" Dauber's motion.

In a statement, one of Persky's lawyers, Elizabeth Pipkin of San Jose firm McManis Faulkner said, "it is unfortunate that this coincides with the loss of his job as a distinguished jurist."

McManis Faulkner represented Persky for free, she said.

Santa Clara County voters recalled Persky in the June 5 election after a contentious, divisive campaign that drew national attention. Months before, Persky sought to block the recall by arguing the secretary of state, rather than the county Registrar of Voters, should oversee the recall, and that the replacement for a recalled judge should be appointed by the governor rather than elected. A judge ultimately ruled against him.

Woocher said his firm agreed to represent the recall campaign free of charge "with the understanding that we would be entitled to seek our attorney's fees" and the "fairly certain" belief that they would ultimately succeed. About half of his firm's litigation are public-interest cases where they charge no or reduced fees, he said.

Woocher noted that Persky's lawsuit included the same claim for recouping attorney's fees if he were to prevail.

"We're very hopeful that it's over now," Woocher told the Weekly. "We just want what we think the law entitles us to and what he asked for when he thought he was going to win the case."

Comments

Bryan
Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm
Bryan, Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm
8 people like this

[Post removed.]


Ignore the Bill
another community
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:32 pm
Ignore the Bill, another community
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:32 pm
13 people like this

[Post removed.]


The Persky Amen Corner Is Here Again
Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:41 pm
The Persky Amen Corner Is Here Again, Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:41 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Oct 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm
23 people like this

"it is unfortunate that this coincides with the loss of his job as a distinguished jurist."

Only a lawyer would utter such nonsense. Persky was a terrible jurist [portion removed] who was fortunately removed from his position by the voters. I wish the reimbursement were ten times what it is.


Isaac Parker
another community
on Oct 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm
Isaac Parker, another community
on Oct 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm
8 people like this

[Post removed.]


Screeedek
Registered user
Atherton
on Oct 26, 2018 at 11:52 am
Screeedek, Atherton
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2018 at 11:52 am
17 people like this

Well, judges are now on notice that they better forget actually judging and just apply the maximum penalty to whomever is judged guilty in their courtroom. Otherwise they may be without a job AND a substantial amount of their own money.


Sad Day
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Sad Day, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm
12 people like this

Wow, judges are now on notice. They will be financially penalized for those decisions that people who don't understand the law also don't happen to like. Good luck to all judges in the future following and adhering to the law instead of catering to uninformed public opinion - particularly when there is a giant financial penalty involved. Beyond disgusting outcome.


Why does Judge Persky have to pay?
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm
Why does Judge Persky have to pay?, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm
14 people like this

Let me try to get this straight. Judge Persky sued to get the recall petition off the ballot. The recall petitioners had to defend that lawsuit. Judge Persky now has to pay the legal fees for defending the lawsuit that he brought.

If Judge Persky had not filed a lawsuit and had allowed the recall petition to be voted on, there would not be any fees he would have had to pay.

Did I get the story right? This payment is not about punishing judges who lose a recall, but instead about losing a lawsuit Judge Persky lost against "an important right affecting the public interest."


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm
17 people like this

If Persky and his legal eagles had not pulled out all the stops trying to prevent the voters of Santa Clara County from an up-down vote on the recall, he would not be facing this decision that he needs to pay the fees associated with fending off his maneuvers.


mauricio
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm
19 people like this

Former judge Persky is not being penalized for losing the recall elections. He challenged in court the legitimate right of the residents of Santa Clara County to mount a recall election. He lost that challenge, which was inevitable, and now he must reimburse the recall campaign. By challenging the legitimacy of the recall election, he showed, not for the first time, terrible judgment, which proves again how correct were the S.C County voters to recall him by an overwhelming majority.


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