BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
An attorney for recalled judge Aaron Persky said last night (June 19) that he intends to question under oath Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who led the campaign to recall Persky, over a motion her attorneys filed for more than $112,000 in attorney’s fees from him.
San Jose attorney Jim McManis, whose firm represented Persky for free as he unsuccessfully sued Dauber, other petitioners and the Santa Clara County registrar of voters to try to prevent the recall effort, said he had notified Dauber of a deposition to take place July 3.
“This is the latest shameful act in the life of Michele Dauber. She collected a lot of money from unsuspecting voters, and then she told a lot of stories to get this guy recalled, and now she wants to collect over $100,000 from the man whose job she took away,” McManis told the Post. Dauber’s attorneys filed a motion for the fees in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday on the grounds that Dauber was the “successful party” in Persky’s suit and had provided a “benefit” to the public by protecting citizens’ right of recall.
McManis dismissed the argument as “more legal mumbo-jumbo her lawyers have cooked up” and said that “nobody ever questioned the right of recall.”
Last year, McManis’ firm unsuccessfully argued that because Superior Court judges are appointed by the governor, they’re officers of the state rather than the county. For this reason, the recall campaign’s notice to circulate the petition should have been certified by the Secretary of State, not the county registrar.
Fredric Woocher, of the Los Angeles law firm Strumwasser and Woocher, told the Post that his firm had agreed to represent Dauber without payment, understanding that the firm could apply for attorney’s fees if successful.
“It is really our firm’s motion for attorney’s fees more than Professor Dauber’s, because under California law the right to apply for attorney’s fees in a case like this belongs to the attorneys, not the client,” Woocher said in an email.
But McManis suggested that Dauber’s lawyers had been “paid, basically” and that Dauber was seeking to “get paid for this vile campaign.”
Questioning under oath, or a deposition, is the taking of sworn, out-of-court testimony. Often, depositions are taken on video. McManis said he wanted to question Dauber about whether her attorneys had been paid, “what the invoices were, what the payments were, where they got the money.”
“We question everything. We question the amount that she’s seeking,” McManis said. “What she did was a vicious, vile act of taking a great judge and excoriating him with a lot of misleading information for the voters.”
When reached last night, Dauber dismissed what McManis had said.
“What Jim McManis said is completely untrue. I submitted an affidavit that clearly states that Fred Woocher and his firm have not been paid,” Dauber said in an email. “This is a motion for fees that would be paid to the attorneys.”
Dauber said she contributed about $10,000 to the recall and that she expected the campaign to have few or no funds remaining once all of its outstanding obligations are satisfied.
McManis said if the judge sides with Dauber, the attorney’s fees would come from Persky, not from McManis’ law firm. Persky made $186,416 as a judge last year, according to Transparent California.