Steve Pappas and Doreen Farr

Paul Wellman (file)

Steve Pappas and Doreen Farr

‘Last Gasp of a Desperate Litigant’?

Pappas Petitioning U.S. Supreme Court to Avoid Paying Farr over $700,000

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

A judge all but denied a request Monday morning from former county supervisorial candidate Steve Pappas to hold off on executing a judgment against him while he petitions the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Colleen Sterne is still mulling her decision, but if and when she makes it official, Pappas will have to pay 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr — who beat Pappas in 2008 and again in 2012 — $712,534.93 in attorneys fees plus interest. Each day he doesn’t pay adds another $145 in interest. The total amount includes the costs Farr incurred in fighting her appeal — another $110,043 — which is tacked on to the original $528,657.50 fee awarded to Farr in October 2011 and $72,563 in accrued interest.

It’s been four long years since Pappas first filed a lawsuit to overturn the 2008 election, which he lost to Farr by 806 votes, a margin of more than 2 percent. Pappas attempted to get all votes cast for Farr in Isla Vista thrown out, citing voter fraud. Judge William McLafferty quickly dismissed the case after hearing just a portion of Pappas’s evidence. Pappas appealed and lost. After, Farr won attorneys fees, a decision Pappas appealed, but the Court of Appeal sided with Farr.

Most recently, Pappas asked the court to pause the execution of the judgment until later this month to allow him to petition the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming the statute under which Farr won attorneys fees was unconstitutional. Sterne, however, was ready to side with Farr and found there was nothing in California law that justified her stalling the judgment. “Farr is prejudiced by continuing delays in payment of the judgment,” Sterne wrote in her ruling, saying Pappas misread the applicable statute.

But Monday morning in court, she agreed to a request from Pappas’s attorney Barry Cappello to look at Pappas’s petition of the U.S. Supreme Court — filed Friday afternoon — before she makes her decision final. In Pappas’s petition, he argues that an individual who has made a good faith showing that an election was won by fraud should not have to be penalized with attorneys fees. Cappello said the issue he hopes to raise at the U.S. Supreme Court level is “very important to the citizens of the entire nation.” Still, only 5 percent of petitions to the country’s highest court are actually heard.

Fred Woocher, attorney for Farr, said that Pappas didn’t make a good faith showing, noting McLafferty — who has since passed away — said the claims from Pappas were “frivolous and tantamount to an intentional misleading of the Court.”

Sterne, in her written tentative ruling, said that even if she did have the authority to grant the motion for a stay, she would not have. “This motion and the forthcoming petition for writ of certiorari have all the earmarks of the last gasp of a desperate litigant to delay the inevitable,” she said of Pappas’s latest antics. “Equity does not favor this conduct.”

Meanwhile, the court granted Farr’s motion for attorneys fees on appeal. Sterne did so over the same, repeated claims from Pappas. “This court rejected that position then and the court of appeal has rejected it as well,” Sterne wrote in response. “This is the law of the case.” As well, Pappas claimed the request for fees was excessive.

Pappas had a stay on paying the judgment, pending his appeal. He filed an undertaking in order to obtain the stay. But, Sterne said, “the undertaking was given on condition that, if the judgment was affirmed, Pappas would pay the amount of the fee award order with interest. Farr has demanded payment and Pappas has refused to pay.” The court once again sided with Farr, though it denied her request for attorneys fees in litigating that specific issue.

If Sterne, after reading Pappas’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, sticks with her ruling, Farr can pursue the money from Pappas and the surety company that has guaranteed the money.

Farr’s attorney Fred Woocher, speaking facetiously about Pappas drawing out the legal process, said he was “very impressed with Pappas’s ability to turn a $200,000 fee award into a $750,000 award.”

Pappas, in his quest for the supervisor’s seat, was heavily financed by rancher Nancy Crawford-Hall. In total, she contributed more than half a million dollars to his campaign. She was also one of the ringleaders of the group that contested the election. It isn’t known how much in total she has contributed to bankroll the ongoing litigation.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

its amazing how long pappas has strung this out. end it already.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And Pappas is the best they could come up with.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 11:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Pay up Mr. Pappas! It's time to take responsibilty for a baseless lawsuit which caused so much heartache.

SpankyMcGraw (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

on a side note, justice costs too much. Scam? The legal system should be understood by all, taught at all levels of public education for an equal field of play once you are 'in the system'. Too many abuses by those with money.

spacey (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

In the end what does it all mean?...the Santa Ynez Valley has become a playground for rich drunken tourists. So much for the "locals".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Cappello's argument makes no sense. The Pappas suit never proved any fraud and, in fact, stipulated that Farr herself was not implicated in the fraud that they alleged. They maintained that they were only suing Farr because that was the recourse that the the law allowed. Now they believe that Farr should be responsible for the costs of defending herself against a suit that she won? By Cappello's logic plaintiffs would be held harmless for costs, but defendents would be liable for the legal bills to defend themselves even when the defendents have done no wrong. The Supreme Court of the United States won't spend 10 seconds considering that senseless argument and neither should the judge here in Santa Barbara. She should just sign the order for Pappas to pay.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 3:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It is truly disgraceful. The local Republican Party needs to clearly and publicly state their position on this or not wonder why everyone thinks they're a bunch of cranks.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 3:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pappas is obviously delaying filing BK. He will never pay this bill. He is a Skoflaw and in the end will avoid his responsibility with BK. Crawford-Hall has no legal responsibility to pay although morally there is no question she should , and she will disappear from the scene just like her paper.

sbreader (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 4:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Cappelo: My mother, Marge Clausen says "hi" from beyond the grave. My dad's there with her. You know what I'm talking about.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 9:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Imagine someone filing a frivolous lawsuit against you , causing you to spend untold thousands of dollars to defend yourself. You have done nothing wrong , yet some wealthy entity has it out for you and will spend whatever it takes to bring you down . Rebuffed at every turn by the legal system, this person with money to burn exhausts every appeal option available . With no choice but to soldier on , going to work every day loaded with the stress of being unfairly attacked, you hope to someday recoup the money you have spent to defend yourself against this attack by a feather brained cabal.
Now you have won a judgement for restitution , and the deadbeats who initiated the half witted attacks weasel out of paying. Meanwhile , you go to work, pay your bills , and hope for the best.
Supervisor Farr is to be commended for conducting herself in an honorable manner while no doubt being loaded with an incredible amount of stress by the actions of the unsavory characters , Pappas and Crawford Hall.

geeber (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 3:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Eckerman, Geeber: A Tom Sneddon tradition, with the exception that his litigation was entirely malicious and his bottomless pockets were taxpayers $$$. I've had personal experience with the same issue with Dudley , but can't afford the cost of legal action for reimbursement of attorney fees. It's great to have baseless charges dismissed when your case is heard in court, but pretty frustrating after your legal defense has consumed your savings, IRA , maxed out your credit cards, the premiums for your former health insurance policy have been used to pay attorneys, you're unable to afford health care, and your credit score is destroyed. Sneddon's malicious litigation resulted in adverse possession of defendants' property due to property tax default. Adversarial justice in the gutter Cases like these shouldn't be tried in court. I'm glad Doreen Farr can at least afford an attorney, and she sure deserves compensation for the cost of Pappas' litigation.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 6:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The penalty (financial burden/stress/time wasted) due to the hiring of a lawyer is often greater than losing lawsuits. Don't hire lawyers! They don't help.
To the pinhead who lost the election "Grow UP!"

khiggler (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 7:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is reminiscent of B-1 Bob Dornan's law suit against Loretta Sanchez in Orange County. B-1 Bob, the golden boy of Orange County's John Birch society lost to a Latina of all people and sued for some frivolous reason as well. The difference is when he lost his republican cronies in D.C. finagled a way for the taxpayers to pay his legal costs of over $250k. Here it just seems Cappello has another sucker. As for the local republicans to give their opinion good luck, this might be one reason the national committee wants them to keep their money local, Barry runs up the tab real quick.

joerak (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 7:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

+1 for all comments regarding this asinine legal action.

Pay up Pappas, lick your wounds and Nancy's too & then move on with your pathetic life. Your credibility in the S.Y. Valley is gone forever!

Nancy has finally seen enough of her inherited cash go poof with the Valley Journal, widely known as the Valley Urinal, and is sitting on the side lines for her next insane bout with Valley citizens.

Stay tuned!

Barron (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 9:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I wonder whether or not Pappas will try to stiff his attorney the same way the Wendy McCaw did?

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 9:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Face it Pappas: You Lost.

Face it Crawford-Hall: Your money couldn't buy the seat for your hand-picked lackey. You should really pay this judgment since you bankrolled everything else for Pappas.

How could he be so stupid?

mangomamma (anonymous profile)
March 6, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It is so totally unfair to Farr who won both elections fairly to have to wait another day to get the money she has had to put out thanks to that sore loser. The creeps who bring frivolous lawsuits should have to pay for misusing our already stressed legal system, which tries to be fair to all in our government of laws. Pappas should pay, and he should pay now!

Shira (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 12:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I thought it should've been levied against his last campaign's fund.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 1:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: