A California Court of Appeal affirmed a Superior Court judgment that Steve Pappas — who lost to Doreen Farr both in 2008 and again in 2012 during bids for the county’s 3rd District Supervisor seat — owes Farr the $528,657.50 in legal fees she spent defending herself in court against Pappas.
In his suit, Pappas alleged widespread voter fraud in the 2008 election, contending that if it had not existed, he would have won the election. Pappas lost to Farr by 806 votes out of 35,524 total.
“Pappas acknowledges that had Farr not defended the election contest, he, not Farr, would be county supervisor today,” according to the court’s September 26 opinion. “What Pappas does not acknowledge is that he failed to prove even a single vote was unlawfully cast in the election. The public has a profound interest in making sure those who lawfully win elections are able to take the office to which they were elected.
“This public interest extends to ensuring that those elected to office are not forced to withdraw because they cannot afford to defend a meritless election contest. The trial court could reasonably conclude that the public interest so overwhelms whatever compensation Farr might derive from her office that no deduction from the fee award is warranted.”
The case was already in front of the same Court of Appeal once, when the panel determined that the lower court properly found no fraud had been proven.