There’s been a lot of discussion among those who hope Mayor Bob Filner’s days as mayor are numbered over whether a resignation or a recall vote to oust him from office is better for the city.
But a recent filing underscores the possibility of a Plan C: the San Diego County Grand Jury.
A new grand jury complaint filed against Filner on Aug. 1 argues that an investigation into various dealings by the mayor is “necessary and the Grand Jury is the only body that can do so in a prompt and efficient manner.”
It says a recall would be next to impossible to carry out successfully because “no city in the state of California has a higher barrier” for a recall.
The filing cites Filner’s dealings with developer Sunroad, questions over the funding of his trip to Paris and sexual harassment accusations to bolster its argument that the Grand Jury should oust Filner.
A grand jury could potentially find enough evidence of “willful or corrupt misconduct in office” against Filner to indict him under a “rarely invoked” California state law, Logan Jenkins pointed out in the U-T.
By sticking to allegations that could be corroborated with documents and other tangible evidence, the filing gives the grand jury an opportunity to establish Filner has engaged in serious misconduct.
The lawyers behind the filing don’t have to prove Filner committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. They just have to establish with compelling evidence that he intentionally engaged in misconduct. The brief argues that there was clear intent behind Filner’s misconduct, and that it is enough for the grand jury to take action.
A grand jury indictment would lead to a jury trial. If a jury were to convict Filner, he would be immediately removed from office, but he would still have the right to appeal.
It is not clear how long it would take the grand jury to carry the process through to its conclusion, nor is it clear who filed the document, though he or she is being represented by the firm Lounsbery Ferguson Altona & Peak.
California law also states that “any officer subject to removal pursuant to this article may be removed from office for willful or corrupt misconduct in office occurring at any time within the six years immediately preceding the presentation of an accusation by the grand jury.”
But there is no time limit on grand jury proceedings and “it is entirely up to the grand jury to decide what to do with complaints, if anything,” William Trautman, president of the California Grand Juries’ Association, told VOSD in an email.