Supreme Court Kills Michela Alioto-Pier's Campaign to Run for Supe Again

Luke Thomas
The wheels of justice have not turned in Michela Alioto-Pier's favor
The California Supreme Court denied to hear a petition from Michela Alioto-Pier, sinking her chances to run once more for District 2 supervisor.

While Superior Court Judge Peter Busch ruled that Alioto-Pier was eligible for another run, city attorney Dennis Herrera challenged the ruling -- and, last month, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal unanimously agreed with him. Come 2011, a new face will be representing the district. Here's the nitty-gritty:

Ever since Herrera opined in 2008 that Alioto-Pier was ineligible to run again, the D-2 supe has hinted at legal action. That lawsuit came in June. Here's the crux of it: Herrera applied the "rounding-up rule," which states that anyone appointed to serve two or more years of a four-year term has, in the eyes of the law, served a complete first term. Alioto-Pier saw things differently. After being appointed by newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom to fill his seat, she served 10 months. Then she was elected to a two-year term. And then, in 2006, she won her "first" four-year term.

That's how Judge Busch saw things, too. But, [on Aug. 24], a three-judge appeals panel sharply disagreed. In a 23-page ruling, the judges felt that Alioto-Pier's interpretation, "if accepted, would create an exception to the term limits provision that would swallow the rule, as it would give her the opportunity to serve almost three full terms instead of the two terms contemplated" by the city charter. "And it would ignore rounding up. This would be, in statutory interpretation language, an absurd result, which courts must try to avoid." The appeals court argues that the will of voters asked to decide on term limits measures - and, based on what they read in voter pamphlets - is ill-served by a legalistic argument that favors appointed candidates over elected ones.

Calls to Alioto-Pier have not yet been returned. Her husband and attorney, Tom Pier, said to label him as disappointed would be "an understatement. We're very surprised, but it's all part of the judicial process and we have to defer to it."

Update, 4:35 p.m.: Alioto-Pier released the following statement:

"I believed and continued to believe that the intent of the voters as reflected in the plain language of our city charter allows me to run for second four year term.  While I am disappointed in the outcome, I of course respect the judicial process.

I will continue to work hard for the residents of my district and the people of San Francisco for the remainder of time in office."

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