Ethics case seeking Ed Jew's removal from office
Defense attorney Steven Gruel and Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross
agreed yesterday before the San Francisco Ethics Commission to
meet and discuss legal issues about the city's residency case
against suspended Supervisor Ed Jew. The panel earlier unanimously
rejected Gruel's argument that the commission did not have the
authority to rule on the case.
Photos by Luke
By Ari Burack
December 1, 2007
San Francisco's Ethics Commission will hear an official misconduct
case against suspended Supervisor Ed Jew in January, paving the
way for his possible removal from the board, unless attorneys
for both sides agree to a delay, the commission decided Friday.
Mayor Gavin Newsom initiated the case before the five-member
Ethics Commission in late September, one of three cases alleging
Jew made false statements regarding his residency in the Sunset
District in official nomination papers he submitted before his
election in November 2006.
In doing so, Newsom temporarily suspended
Jew and replaced him with Carmen Chu as interim District 4 supervisor.
Mayor Gavin Newsom appoints Carmen Chu (left) Interim District
following Newsom's suspension of Supervisor Ed Jew. File photo,
Jew, 47, a Chinatown flower shop owner, is alleged to have maintained
his primary residence at his Burlingame home rather than a house
he owned at 2450 28th Ave. in San Francisco.
Newsom is being represented by the City Attorney's Office in
the official misconduct case.
The Ethics Commission is tasked with hearing the evidence against
Jew and then issuing a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors,
after which the Board will vote on whether Jew is to be permanently
removed. A three-fourths majority of supervisors would be required
to remove Jew.
The City Attorney's Office is currently pursuing a second civil
case against Jew in San Francisco Superior Court on the same residency
issue, one the San Francisco District Attorney's Office is also
pursuing as a criminal matter.
Jew is facing a fourth case in federal court on federal criminal
charges of mail
fraud, bribery and extortion in connection with an alleged
scheme to solicit $84,000 from two sets of businesses seeking
The City Attorney's two cases seek simply Jew's removal from
office, while the two criminal cases could also bring prison time
if Jew is convicted.
Additionally, the official misconduct case requires a higher
standard to prove guilt - "willful" misconduct - than
the City Attorney's court case, and if found true, would impose
an additional five-year prohibition on Jew seeking other office,
according to the City Attorney's Office.
None of the four cases has yet been resolved.
Jew's attorney Steven Gruel, who is representing Jew in all of
the cases except the one brought by the District Attorney, brought
a motion to dismiss the Ethics Commission case, alleging residency
issues can only be addressed in state court, and that these removal
proceedings are inherently unfair.
Defense Attorney Steven Gruel
Jew did not attend the hearing.
Gruel contended that Jew cannot receive a fair hearing because
the members of the commission are variously appointed by the Mayor,
the City Assessor, the Board of Supervisors, the City Attorney
and the District Attorney. In addition, he said, members of the
Board of Supervisors have already said publicly that Ed Jew should
"You are the gatekeeper," Gruel told the commission
members. Gruel added that he felt he already knew the decision
the supervisors would make.
The Ethics Commission unanimously dismissed Gruel's motion this
afternoon, after hearing Gruel's arguments and City Attorney's
Office lawyer Linda Ross' arguments against, as well as public
comment from several San Francisco residents who spoke out against
the misconduct proceedings.
Deputy City Attorney Linda Ross
Many of the residents claimed the mayor's case against Jew was
motivated by political reasons, and that the case should be heard
only in court.
Newsom claimed at the time he suspended
Jew on Sept. 25 that he didn't think Jew could govern and defend
himself against his criminal charges at the same time.
Following the hearing, Gruel and Ross agreed to meet in the coming
weeks to determine whether they would agree to stay the Ethics
Commission case until the City Attorney's superior court case
Should the case not be stayed, both attorneys will file briefs
and will tentatively reappear before the Ethics Commission on
"We're gratified by the outcome, but we're not particularly
surprised," City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said after
City Attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey
"It wasn't everything that we wanted," Gruel said.
"I had hoped that they would see things our way."
Gruel said he was encouraged that the commission members indicated
that this decision was "no determination on the merits of
this case," he said.
Dorsey suggested that the public comment at the hearing was not
representative of the feelings of the majority of San Francisco
residents, and claimed that the City Attorney would not have pursued
the case against Jew if it were only "a close call."
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