Law and Odor

Illustration by Bob AulJudge John M. Watson on Feb. 23 shitcanned his controversial rule that his bailiff be notified if any witness or party entering his OC Superior courtroom "has an infectious disease such as hepatitis, AIDS, etc." More surprising than Watson's reversal was the manner in which the Deukmejian appointee's stand on his rule changed depending upon whom he talked with. In R. Scott Moxley's Feb. 18 Weekly piece—which, ahem, broke the story—Watson defended his rule as essential to "comfort and safety in my courtroom." That story included shocked reactions from local attorneys and gay civil-rights activists—as did The Orange County Register's Feb. 19 follow-up, in which Watson reportedly expressed second thoughts about his rule. By the time the legalese Los Angeles Daily Journalgot to the matter on Feb. 24, Watson was quoted as saying he had spiked his HIV-status directive, that he should have done so long ago, and that he'd forgotten all about his order until "someone" had recently brought it to his attention. Wonder who that was? FULL-COURT PRESS Irvine Valley College philosophy professor Roy Bauer won his fourth court decision against the South Orange County Community College District on Feb. 29, when a judge tossed out college president Raghu Mathur's invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Bauer. Mathur's suit alleged that Bauer's muckraking Dissent newsletter carried details from the overwhelmingly despised administrator's personnel file, but Judge Michael Brennan swatted the matter aside as if it were a cross-eyed, overweight gnat, citing state law that prohibits suits intended to suffocate free speech. Bauer has already won $126,000 in district funds to cover his attorney fees from a judge's ruling that district chancellor Cedric Sampson ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution when he reprimanded the professor for dinging the administration in his newsletters; he is entitled under state law to attorney fees in the Mathur matter as well. Bauer has also successfully sued the district twice over state open-meeting-law violations—one involving the board of trustees' appointment of Mathur as president. And get this: the Times OC couldn't get a comment from Mathur on his latest legal setback because he was in a different courtroom defending himself against allegations he unfairly denied tenure to another professor who has been critical of his presidency. Perhaps Mathur oughta move his office to the courthouse to save the district funds, so they can better afford to pay their attorneys—and Bauer's. Or he may have to consider paying out of his own pocket. Something called the Trustee Accountability Project of Laguna Beach informed the Weekly on March 7 that it has demanded Mathur, Sampson and certain board members personally reimburse the district for legal costs associated with their "repeated illegal conduct." A letter to Sampson from the project's lawyers estimated that $500,000 of taxpayers' money has been "squandered" in court because of district officials' "personal political agendas that trample the legal rights of employees, students and the public." RAISING McCAIN A March 2 story by Regi ster political reporter Martin Wisckol revealed that Watergate co-conspirator Donald Segretti is the Orange County co-chairman of Senator John McCain's presidential campaign. You may recall that political reform is McCain's No. 1 issue. You may also recall—if you're old enough or if you've learned American history from places other than the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace—that Segretti's peculiar brand of political reform in the last presidential campaign he worked on (Nixon-Agnew, '72) involved coordinating "dirty tricks." That distinction earned Segretti four and a half months in prison for distributing illegal campaign literature, including a faked letter on Demo cratic candidate Edmund Muskie's letterhead that falsely alleged Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson fathered an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old. Segretti testified he had 28 agents in 12 states engaged in such highbrow political reforms as planting stink bombs. Considering the way McCain's stinking up the polls, it should be no time before Segretti slinks back into obscurity. Otherwise, prepare to hold your noses.


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