Incumbent El Dorado Superior Court Judge Warren Stracener has made changes to his candidacy statement in the runoff election he faces Nov. 6.
He said Thursday he changed the statement he submitted in the June primary to avoid a threatened lawsuit claiming it contained misinformation.
He insisted the statement wasn't inaccurate, but agreed to the change because he wanted to focus the campaign on issues important to him.
Lawyers for Chuck Holland, a Placerville bail bondsman, sent Stracener a letter before the primary, threatening litigation.
"He's trying to use information that's untrue to convince voters he's more qualified than he is," said Holland.
Holland said he is unaffiliated with the campaign of Stracener's opponent, Joseph Hoffman, but the two know each other well.
Hoffman said he was surprised to hear about the changes, first reported in the Mountain Democrat in Placerville, and declined to comment on them.
Holland has long been involved in local politics. He recently left the county's Republican Central Committee after serving on it for about 10 years.
One of the committee's main responsibilities is vetting candidates, and Holland said that experience motivated him to challenge Stracener's qualifications.
Stracener served as an attorney at the state Department of Personnel Administration for 20 years, representing the state in labor disputes. Stracener was the second-ranked litigator in the department when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench, just before the end of his gubernatorial term in December 2010.
In one of the disputed lines in Stracener's candidate's statement for the primary, he wrote, "I have appeared before" the Supreme Court of the United States. Holland objected that the statement was misleading because Stracener did not argue the case in person before the court.
The case in question was complicated one involved multiple defendants including a large state employees' union. Stracener won the case for the state when the court denied his opponents their motion for a writ of certiorari.
Stracener said the original statement was correct, since the technical definition of an appearance before the court includes filing a brief.
"They're quibbling over semantics, and they tried to construct this argument that I have somehow misled people by saying that I appeared at the U.S. Supreme Court," Stracener said. "I don't know what else to call it."
John Sims, a professor at McGeorge School of Law, said Stracener's statement might not have been incorrect, but that he could have been clearer by using the phrase "entered an appearance."
Statements from candidates in the general election were made available for public review in the Elections Department this week to give people a chance to raise concerns. The statements will then be printed and mailed to voters.