Soulvine: Richard Alarcón got off – what about Rod Wright?
Columnist Betty Pleasant compares how the cases of two elected officials charged with similar crimes had different outcomes
‘What is the difference between Richard Alarcón and Rod Wright? Alarcon is Hispanic and he’s been vindicated. Wright is Black and he hasn’t.’
Last month a panel of appellate court justices threw out the perjury and voter fraud convictions of former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcón and his wife, who had been convicted in 2014 of lying about where they lived so Alarcón could run for another seat on the city council. The justices on California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal threw out the convictions because they determined that the judge at Alarcon’s trial had issued improper jury instructions. The justices found that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli had mishandled the instructions, and they wrote: “We cannot conclude that the instructional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The same thing happened to former Sen. Rod Wright, our finest living elected official who had spent 12 years in the Legislature doing nothing but good things for the people. Wright was our state senator until he was convicted of perjury and voting fraud for claiming he lived in Inglewood while that piece of a district of attorney we have claimed Wright lived in Baldwin Hills. He was forced to resign his seat in the California Senate on Sept. 22, 2014. And we, the people, have been the worst for it.
What is the difference between Richard Alarcón and Rod Wright? Alarcon is Hispanic and he’s been vindicated. Wright is Black and he hasn’t. I asked Wright: what are you going to do? He said his appeal was filed with the Second District Court of Appeals last spring and he said he and his attorney are waiting for oral arguments to be scheduled. In light of Alarcón’s acquittal, that district attorney thing we have issued a statement to the effect that her office is “reviewing the court’s opinion and deciding on other options.”