The state Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by ousted supervisor Ray Nutting, allowing a Sept. 9 special El Dorado County election to replace him to proceed.
Nutting filed legal challenges arguing that a visiting Superior Court judge improperly ordered him removed from office for his May 14 misdemeanor convictions for improperly raising bail money from two county employees and a contractor doing business with the county.
On Wednesday, the state’s high court said it would not consider Nutting’s legal claim that visiting Superior Court Judge Timothy S. Buckley had improperly ruled that Nutting committed “misconduct in office” that required his removal.
The Supreme Court’s decision effectively affirmed a previous decision by California’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. That court rejected Nutting’s motion to halt the special election to replace him on grounds that Buckley wrongfully “excluded me from my office, withheld my salary ... and prohibited me from performing my duties” as supervisor.
Nutting’s wife, Jennifer, is considered a leading contender among six candidates running for the seat. She has said she is running for the office on her own merits “and not to keep Nutting name alive” or “for a political vendetta” over her husband’s prosecution.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson announced the Supreme Court’s rejection of Nutting’s appeal Thursday in a news release that referred to him as “disgraced former supervisor Nutting.”
“Now the Supreme Court has finally spoken on the issue – Nutting’s conduct in office constituted misconduct in office and his removal from office was lawful,” Pierson said in the statement.
The news release continued with a pointed reference to Jennifer Nutting’s campaign.
“Ironically, Nutting’s wife is running for his District 2 seat on a platform of ‘Clean Government,’ ” the statement said. “The Supreme Court decision, which affirms former supervisor Ray Nutting’s removal from office, is a step in the right direction to obtain the clean government which El Dorado County citizens deserve.”
In an interview, Nutting fired back at the district attorney. He said the remarks fit with “a maliciously targeted political move” he says resulted in his prosecution.
Nutting, 54, was initially charged with four counts of felony malfeasance over allegations that he failed to properly disclose more than $70,000 in state grant income for brush clearing on his family’s 340-acre timber ranch in Somerset. The district attorney added additional counts over how the supervisor raised $55,000 in bail money in the frenetic moments after he was ordered to surrender on the felony charges on May 28, 2013.
Nutting was convicted on the six misdemeanors related to raising the bail as the same jury acquitted him on the felony charges central to the prosecution’s case. He was acquitted on three felonies related to financial disclosures for the brush-clearing work and jurors deadlocked on a fourth felony count over whether Nutting submitted false documents on when the work was completed.
Claiming he was convicted on “a technicality” on the bail charges, Nutting said today he will continue with other appeals. His attorney, David Weiner, has argued that the trial judge gave improper jury instructions related to the bail counts and that Nutting should be granted a new trial on the misdemeanors. Prosecutors have said they won’t refile the fourth felony charge.
“I won my case. I feel very good about winning my case,” Nutting said, referring to the felony counts. “Vern Pierson lost the case. It is a technicality that Vern hung his hat on.”
Call The Bee’s Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.