LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks lost his bid today 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.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper told attorneys she did not believe there was any new evidence to support granting the new trial motion, and that the facts supporting the original finding against the councilman by former Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt and in favor of Call Center Services were sufficient.
Parks’ lawyer, Giselle Vinas Dhalin, declined to comment on the ruling or whether it will be appealed.
Kronstadt had found in favor of the company after a non-jury trial last November. A 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 automated calls 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.
Scheper said Kronstadt could have been apprised of Grunspan’s claims before Kronstadt finalized the tentative decision he issued in January.
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.”