Nguyen vs. Nguyen: Janet Wins!
Ok, so the timing sort of sucks for us, since we'd have liked to include the information in our story, but it's good news for Janet Nguyen: the California Court of Appeals ruled today, the same day our cover story hit the streets, that Janet did win her election, and therefore does get to stay in office.
Last November, the Orange County Registrar ruled that Trung Nguyen, a Garden Grove school board member backed by State Assemblyman Van Thai Tran, the most powerful Vietnamese-American elected official in the country, and Republican political consultant and attorney Michael Schroeder, beat Janet by seven votes. Weeks later, a manual recount of absentee ballots demanded by Janet gave her a three-vote lead and she finally took office. But Schroeder, an attorney, filed an appeal on behalf of his client Trung, hoping the court would reverse the Registrar's final vote count. If that happened, Trung Nguyen would already be sitting in Janet's desk right now.
Unfortunately for Trung and Schroeder, that didn't happen. In its ruling, released earlier today, the court noted that Janet had every right to demand a manual recount of absentee ballots and that Trung Nguyen failed to present any evidence he won the election, or that a manual recount of the electronic ballots would have produced a different result. "There are in this case, conspicuously, no allegations, much less evidence, that the electronic voting machines in this particular election were tampered with, manipulated, or in any way electronically recorded anything other than a totally accurate vote count," the court ruled. "To be sure, Trung Nguyen did present evidence that the particular kind of machine used in the election could be tampered with. But he did not present any evidence that any machines in this Orange County, California election were tampered with, or were in any way inaccurate."
This is the second piece of bad news in one week for Schroeder, who on Monday saw another client, disgraced Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, resign from his job in preparation for a criminal trial on federal corruption charges. Now Schroeder and Trung will have to pay legal fees to both the court and Janet Nguyen, who could really use the cash right about now. She faces a June re-election race against--you guessed it--Trung Nguyen.