By Joe Castillo
June 21, 2013 • 190 views
I was having trouble falling asleep so I decided to read the ‘Findings of Fact and Legal Conclusions’ regarding Fred Paine’s challenge against Chin Ho Liao on whether he was legally domiciled in San Gabriel and thus was eligible as a candidate for city office. Too bad there were no pictures in the 32 page document as it would have made for a much more interesting read. Overall, it looks like they covered everything which should have been asked but there was lot of questions which were left unanswered. Here are just a couple of points which this layman reader is still a little fuzzy on. Point no. 1, Mr. Paine’s lawyers asked to have Councilmembers Sawkins and Pu recuse themselves as they may have showed bias against their client or had a conflict of interest. Both declined to recuse themselves and were allowed to vote on the issues. Now, I’ve been on jury duty a few times in my life and if I was identified as having known or having bias for or against a defendant or even a prosecutor, I would been excused. And I’m sure that if the judge showed the same sign of bias he would be removed from the case. The point is that in order to have a fair and impartial proceeding, you needed to have an impartial jury or in this case a city council. That didn’t happen in this case. Point no. 2, the question of whether Mr. Ho was ‘domiciled’ within the City of San Gabriel voting district needed to be answered. The difference between ‘domicile’ and ‘residence’ is permanent versus temporary occupation. A ‘domicile’ is defined as having an ‘intent’ to remain on a permanent basis, while a ‘residence’ is defined as only intended to live at a location on a less than permanent basis. One can only have one domicile but may have more than one residence. For most of us, our domicile is our residence, we live in the house or apartment or condo we own, rent or lease. But for Mr. Ho, he owns a house outside of the San Gabriel voting district and leases an apartment in the San Gabriel voting district. He claimed that his house is not where he actually lives and resides but considers his apartment his actual place where he lives. The document included statements that Mr. Ho moved into his apartment until he could find a house to buy in San Gabriel. It also stated that he had moved from another apartment before moving into his current apartment just days before nomination papers were taken out. Also, his track record indicates he did the same thing prior to the City Council elections in 2010. Mr. Ho’s residence and domicile are pretty iffy but what was his actual ‘intent’ especially regarding his living location? His own admission that his apartment was only a temporary residence, as most apartments are, and his previous actions of moving in and out of the city voting district, are some of the questions which still exist. The findings and conclusions aren’t very clear, which is consistent with the entire case, but it’s his intent that is still unknown. Time to go to bed; I’ve lost enough sleep over this head-scratching but historical case.