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Plaintiffs' counsel has graciously provided us with the points and authorities in support of the complaint. Government Code § 12503's requirement of admission to practice in the five years preceding election is the same as the language of the former requirement for judges, Cal. Const. Art. VI former § 23 (repealed 1966). That section was construed in Johnson v. State Bar, 10 Cal. 2d 212, 216, 73 P.2d 1191 (1937) to mean "that the candidate for such position be qualified as an attorney actually entitled to practice in the state courts...," which an inactive member certainly is not.

Curious as to how Mr. Brown might answer this, I went to his campaign web site. The only thing I found there was this reference to and excerpts from this editorial in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a Los Angeles legal newspaper. However, the editorial writer is apparently unaware of the Johnson case, even though the paper's reporter Steven Cischke spoke with counsel for the plaintiffs. In Cischke's story, "Zachary Wasserman of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean in Oakland called the suit a 'publicity stunt' that 'has no merit.'" Given Johnson, the plaintiffs' position seems solid, but we will wait to see what legal authority the Brown camp can muster to match their bluster.

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While I think that the law's the law, it would be an unfortunate result if the ballot box were ignored.

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