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Judge Rules David Campos Can’t Use ‘Civil Rights Attorney’ on Election Ballot

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David Campos (Left photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/The Examiner) and Matt Haney (Right photo by Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner).

A judge on Tuesday ruled David Campos — a candidate in a race for a San Francisco-based state Assembly seat — will not be allowed to use the term “civil rights attorney” on the ballot during the upcoming April 19 election.

Last week, San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court, naming California Secretary of State Shirley Weber as a defendant and seeking a writ of mandate to strike “civil rights attorney” from the ballot when referring to Campos.

Both Haney and Campos are running for the state’s 17th Assembly district seat. During the recent February special primary election, the two garnered the most votes of all four candidates, meaning they will now face off in the April special runoff election.

Campos is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and most recently served as chief of staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin before entering the race. Weber’s office approved Campos’ description of civil rights attorney for voting materials back in December.

According to the lawsuit, “Campos’ proposed ballot designation is not an accurate description of his current profession, vocation, or occupation and if permitted, will mislead voters.”

During a Tuesday morning court hearing, Judge Shelleyanne Chang sided with Haney and ruled that because of Campos’ work with Boudin prosecuting criminal cases, the description is inaccurate and misleading. Chang also rejected an alternate ballot designation for Campos, describing him as a “criminal justice attorney.”

“Criminal justice attorney, also, the court finds would mislead the voter. So, the court is going to grant the writ of mandate and order Mr. Campos to change his ballot designation,” she said.

Chang ultimately approved the ballot designation of “criminal justice administrator” for Campos on the April ballot.

“We filed this petition because David Campos is not a civil rights attorney and nowhere does he, or anyone else, refer to himself as a civil rights attorney except on the ballot,” Haney campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Power said in a statement. “He is chief of staff to Chesa Boudin, a management position in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office where they prosecute people for violating criminal law. To call himself a civil rights attorney was an obvious attempt to mislead voters, a violation of California Elections Code, and an insult to actual civil rights attorneys who’ve dedicated their legal careers to protecting civil rights.”

“Ballot designations matter because as candidates, it is the one thing that appears alongside our name to tell voters what our current principal profession is,” Haney said. “My ballot designation is Supervisor, because that’s my job, and voters should know that. Campos’ ballot designation should not be civil rights attorney because that is clearly not his current job, and to list it as such would be inaccurate and violate election law.”

“The secretary of state approved our ballot designation, civil rights attorney, because that is what I do — fight everyday to protect the civil rights, including the right to be safe, of San Franciscans,” Campos said. “Supervisor Haney’s lawsuit was premised on the fact that he does not think my work battling anti-Asian violence is civil rights work. His lawsuit shows he does not think working to free the wrongfully convicted is civil rights work. His lawsuit showed he does not think working to reduce bias in police interactions is civil rights work.”

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