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Defendants who have utilized the public defenders’ office to deal with legal problems in San Diego are up in arms over public defender Henry Coker endorsing D.A. Bonnie Dumanis in the upcoming mayoral race.

Dumanis recently published the news of Coker's support on her campaign website:

"Bonnie Dumanis is solution oriented," Coker is quoted as saying on the website. "She has opened the door to criminal defense attorneys to round table public safety issues, assisted in providing e-discovery to the Office of the Public Defender, and she is the only mayoral candidate with proven executive leadership dedicated to consensus building and high-tech advances, ensuring the City of San Diego will be a better place for the next generation."

Critics contend that Coker and Dumanis are professional adversaries and the public defender should be politically neutral.

Coker and Dumanis are both local graduates of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law — Bonnie Dumanis in 1976 and Henry Coker in 1985.

Photo of Dumanis and Coker from tjsl.edu

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Ponzi Oct. 14, 2011 @ 8:55 a.m.

So what if Dumanis has done some good things in her job as DA. She is not qualified to lead the city, she is not going to be mayor.

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Gail Powell Oct. 14, 2011 @ 1:38 p.m.

@Ponzi is absolutely correct-Bonnie Dumanis will never be Mayor. She can get endorsements from the Pope and the President, but that will mean nothing because of her bad karma, the negative baggage she has accumulated, the way she has gone about conducting herself and the abuses of power she has inflicted on the needy, the vulnerable, medical marijuana patients and as Terri Best likes to say, "the low-lying fruit."

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Visduh Oct. 14, 2011 @ 3:50 p.m.

The public defender has no business making political endorsements at all. If he does so, they should be sharply limited to things directly impinging upon his task. And when he makes such endorsements, he should expect to take heat from his employer, the county. It will be of no comfort to the innocent folks that have been defended by his office that he likes her. When she went after the meek and the weak, it was not something that made the area a better one to live in.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 14, 2011 @ 5:12 p.m.

When she went after the meek and the weak, it was not something that made the area a better one to live in.

== Well said

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 14, 2011 @ 5:16 p.m.

Coker and Dumanis are both local graduates of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law — Bonnie Dumanis in 1976 and Henry Coker in 1985.

==

NEITHER of these two clowns are graduates of "Thomas Jefferson School of Law". Sorry Gail, you need to get the facts rigth.

TJSL is an *ABA accredited LS that took over Western State Law School, which was a notorious NON-ABA accredited law school that didn't even require a 4-year bachelors degree to get into.

BOTH graduated from Western State-a non ABA LS and are limited to practicing law ONLY in this state, CA.

45 states REQUIRE graduation from an ABA LS to practice law, CA is one of only 5 that allow un-accredited LS students to sit for the state Bar.

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laplayaheritage Oct. 14, 2011 @ 6:07 p.m.

Only elected public officials are allowed to Endorse or campaign for their favorite candidates. Non-elected public official like the Public Defenders office, Navy personnel, individual Police Officers cannot make endorsements for political campaigns.

http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm

A complaint should be made to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel regarding the Federal Hatch Act violation.

http://www.osc.gov/haFederalLessRestrisctionandActivities.htm

Less Restricted Employees – Political Restrictions and Prohibited ActivitiesThe Hatch Act prohibits less restricted federal employees from:

May not use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. For example:

May not use their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity.

May not invite subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggest to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity.

May not solicit, accept or receive a donation or contribution for a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. For example:

May not host a political fundraiser.

May not invite others to a political fundraiser.

May not collect contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions.*

May not be candidates for public office in partisan political elections.

May not knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of anyone who has business pending before their employing office.

May not engage in political activity – i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group – while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle. For example:

May not distribute campaign materials or items.

May not display campaign materials or items.

May not perform campaign related chores.

May not wear or display partisan political buttons, T-shirts, signs, or other items.

May not make political contributions to a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

May not post a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

May not use any e-mail account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 14, 2011 @ 11:26 p.m.

Only elected public officials are allowed to Endorse or campaign for their favorite candidates. Non-elected public official like the Public Defenders office, Navy personnel, individual Police Officers cannot make endorsements for political campaigns.

== Busted!

I was thinking, I have never heard of a Public Defender endorsing anyone for any office, any office ever!

The San Francisco public defender (currently Jeff Adachi) IS an elected position. Only elected PD in this state, maybe the entire country.

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Gail Powell Oct. 14, 2011 @ 7:24 p.m.

Thank you @laplayaheritage for that! I have plans to make an official complaint about this and value your input here. BTW, SurfPuppy619, you are correct about the different Law Schools. But I took my info on that from an TJSL alumni award that was presented to both Dumanis and Coker, & where the picture used in the story came from.

I am sure that all Stringer reporters aim to be as wholly accurate as possible so thank you again for input here.

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Visduh Oct. 15, 2011 @ 9:06 a.m.

That Hatch Act is, unless I'm badly mistaken, a federal law, covering federal employees. If so, it would not apply in this case. But there may be similar legal restrictions in state law that would affect this move. And if you notice the restrictions in the Act, as outlined by laplayaheritage, they appear to pertain to "partisan" political activities. Here in California, county and city elections are officially non-partisan.

It would appear that complaining to the feds about this would be futile.

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laplayaheritage Oct. 15, 2011 @ 5:56 p.m.

http://tinyurl.com/20081017a

Please see the link above to our 2008 complaint again Police Chief Lansdowne. The US Office of Special Counsel conducted the investigation for Federal Hatch Act violations.

http://www.osc.gov/haFilingComplaint.htm

Anyone can file a claim online for free.

Yes the Hatch Act is a Federal law for Federal employees. However local and State employees are subject to follow the same Federal law if they receive money from the Federal government. Since San Diego gets Federal funds into the County of San Diego for law enforcement and Homeland Security, the County of San Diego has implied it is following the Federal Hatch Act with its own employees.

In theory, the County of San Diego has a choice of either giving back their Federal funding, or somehow discipline the employees to make it clear that non-elected government officials cannot use the power of their appointed office to campaign in an election. Fines may also be imposed on the law breakers.

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Visduh Oct. 15, 2011 @ 6:55 p.m.

Good points. I almost included some speculation in my post about the extension of federal funding into local legal matters. (When doesn't the federal government pick up part of the tab for local activities?) I hope you are oh-so-right about that law extending to local yokels.

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laplayaheritage Oct. 15, 2011 @ 8:24 p.m.

Hopefully a complaint will be filed against both Dumanis and her Public Defender Henry Coker. Dumanis was a judge, knows the law, and selectively fails to enforce laws she wants to ignore.

http://tinyurl.com/20081017a

Please see the highlighted section of the first page in the Complaint of Possible Prohibited Political Activity (Violation of the Hatch Act).

"State and Local Employees are prohibited from*: 1. Using their official authority to influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office."

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Gail Powell Feb. 7, 2012 @ 1:13 p.m.

GOOD NEWS for those who despise scheming D.A.'s and clueless Public Defenders: there has now been filed Hatch Act violation complaints regarding these intemperate endorsements.

Re: "the endorsement of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis for Mayor of San Diego; Dave Berry for Superior Court Judge; and Robert Amador for Superior Court Judge. All endorsements from PD Coker are for the June 5, 2012 San Diego County elections. They are conflicts-of-interests, and separate Federal Hatch Act violations.

http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm

Please note all parties including Coker, Dumanis, Berry, and Amador are actually lawyers in San Diego County, who do not understand that Federal law applies to local San Diego elections, due to the County's approval of Federal dollars and grants for Homeland Security and law enforcement. The County of San Diego, by their acceptance of Federal Funds for Homeland Security amongst others, requires local government’s non-elected officials to refrain from Politics with the use of their appointed title. Citizen Coker can endorse anyone he wants. However County of San Diego Public Defender Coker is banned from political speech and endorsements. Even for his good friends Dumanis, Berry, and Amador. In theory the Federal Hatch Act requires the County of San Diego to fire violators, or pay back Federal funds as a form of punishment.

Under the Federal Hatch Act, local San Diego County government employees like Public Defender Henry Coker, and some non-profit entities are prohibited from "Using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an election or a nomination for office."

Please see Page 13 for the October 27, 2011 email from Ronald Lane of the County of San Diego that states the County of San Diego's position as it relates to conformance with the Federal Hatch Act:

"We are in receipt of your email regarding Mr. Coker's endorsement of Ms. Dumanis for Mayor of the City of San Diego. It does not appear to us that the Hatch Act or any provisions of state and local law restricts a county employees political speech."

Endorsements by local non-elected government officials have probably been ongoing in San Diego County for the last 81 years since the passage of the Federal Hatch Act of 1939.

Our ultimate goal would be for any lawyer, government official, or non-profit entity to understand the Federal law, its blatant abuse in San Diego County, and end the illegal political practice. Please investigate if our analysis is correct."

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