A California Court of Appeals has affirmed deceased Superior Court Judge William McLafferty’s 2009 decision which upheld Doreen Farr’s victory to become Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District supervisor.
Farr, who defeated Steve Pappas in the election by 806 votes out of 35,524, was elated when she heard the news. “We were optimistic considering the strength of the ruling of Judge McLafferty,” she said. “Now that it’s confirmed, we’ve had four judges all say the same thing: there’s no fraud.”
Pappas, who didn’t return a phone call and has now lost handily at every legal turn, can appeal to the California Supreme Court, but the state’s highest court does not have to take the case. Stanley Green, attorney for Pappas, also could not be reached for comment.
Pappas was alleging that, on technicalities, votes were counted that should not have been. He and his attorneys had argued there was a failure to return completed voter registration cards within a three day time limit, and that voter drive workers who helped fill out registration affidavits didn’t sign the affidavits. Pappas also said the County Election’s official failed to verify voter registration information.
McLafferty ruled that the allegations did not, as a matter of law, provide a basis for challenging the votes or the election results. The Court of Appeals agreed.
The panel still hasn’t returned a decision on whether Farr should be awarded attorney’s fees, a longshot considering legal precedent. The court has until the end of November to make its decision.
The way election code is written, calls for any legal action name the candidate — in this case Farr — as the defendant, rather than the county election’s office, meaning she herself had to defend the suit. As a result, Farr finds herself somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 in the hole thanks to legal fees.
She said regardless of the Court of Appeals’ decision regarding the fees issue, she intends to go to the legislature to find someone who can carry a bill which would amend election code. “Now is an opportunity to correct it,” Farr said. “None of the causes of action had to do with me.”
She’s received a lot of support, she said, from people “really understanding the basic injustice of the situation.”
One person she hasn’t heard from: Steve Pappas. He has never conceded the election and the two haven’t spoken since the last public forum prior to election night.