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Judge delays Councilmember Parks' robocall case

8/2/2011, 5 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Citing possible bias, a judge today delayed ruling
on a motion by Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks for a new trial on
allegations he owes more than $60,000 for automated calls made to potential
voters during his failed 2008 campaign for a seat on the county Board of
Supervisors.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper told attorneys she is a former
assistant inspector general for the LAPD, which Parks once headed when he was
chief of police. She rescheduled today's hearing for Monday to give lawyers for
Parks and Call Center Services a chance to talk to their clients to see if they
want her to hear the motion.

Former Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt found in favor of Call Center
Services after a non-jury trial and judgment was entered on the firm's behalf
in June for $60,425.

Kronstadt found there was a ``preponderance of evidence'' showing the
councilman ``knew or should have known'' that his campaign committee had hired
the company to make thousands of robocalls targeting white, Spanish-speaking
and Republican residents on the Westside.

Kronstadt noted that Parks' own voice could be heard in the calls. Two
of Parks' top aides testified in November that they witnessed the former Los
Angeles police chief making the first recording on May 16, 2008. Parks recorded
a second call 10 days later, they said.

The aides, Herb Wesson III -- son of Councilman Herb Wesson -- and Andrew
Westall also testified that Parks verbally authorized them to engage Call
Center Services, telling them, ``make it happen,'' ``hook it up'' and
''get these loaded.''

Kronstadt was later named to the federal court bench, and the Parks
case was assigned to Scheper.

According to court papers filed on Parks' behalf in support of his
motion for a new trial, an anonymous call was made to the councilman's office
on Jan. 14 by an individual later identified as Gabriel Grunspan, who claimed
to have known Westall for 14 years. Grunspan, after reading a newspaper article
about the case, ``believed that ... Westall had perjured himself in testifying
at trial,'' Parks' court papers state.

Parks has maintained he never authorized his aides to enter into a
contract with Call Center Services.

``I never heard of the company until after the primary election and we
received an invoice -- not a detailed bill of what was done, but an invoice
saying we owed money,'' Parks said in January. ''Nobody had ever heard of the
company and certainly the people that they dealt with (Wesson and Westall)
didn't have the authority to go into that level of obligation.''