Kicked out of the Bar: Former Butte County Assistant District Attorney Leo Barone, who was fired in July 2004 for withholding evidence in a molestation case, has been suspended from practicing law in California.

Barone, who is reportedly now working as a corrections officer in Tehama County, was let go after he successfully prosecuted an innocent man for lewd conduct with a minor. The key witness in the case was the defendant’s 9-year-old niece, who had an inconsistent story and had made false accusations in the past. Barone knew this from talking to the girl’s father but kept the information to himself. The case was dismissed, but only after the defendant had spent a year in jail.

Jodea Foster, the defense attorney in the case, confirmed that his client had filed a complaint with the Bar Association. The Bar apparently made its decision last summer but only published the suspension earlier this month.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey, Barone’s former boss, said he had heard about the suspension but was unable to comment about personnel issues.

Electile dysfunction: County Registrar Candace Grubbs will ask the Board of Supes for permission to buy $3 million worth of Diebold touch-screen voting machines for use in the June 6 election. Last week she told the board her office was in a bind, as the feds mandated that every polling place be handicapped-accessible while the state had failed to certify any voting machines that would allow counties to comply with that law.

On Friday, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson OK’d the Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote touch screen machines, even though computer security experts have found serious vulnerabilities in the machines which many worry could lead to election fraud. Diebold, which also makes ATM’s, has weathered a storm of controversy over security flaws and financial ties to the Republican Party. In 2004, the company settled a lawsuit with the state, paying $2.6 million to make up for using uncertified software in machines used in 17 counties in 2004. Most state registrars, however, have confidence in the machines.

Charter sendoff: A charter school will be looking elsewhere for support as the Chico Unified School District politely and unanimously sent its proponents packing Feb. 15.

The 8-year-old Community Options for Resources in Education (C.O.R.E.), also known as Camptonville Academy, is seeking a sponsor due to changes in laws governing charter schools, and its next likely option is the Butte County Office of Education.

“I really believe that the petition’s in the wrong place,” said CUSD Trustee Rick Anderson. “I have no issue with the quality of the charter school, but I do believe that this is the wrong venue for lots of reasons.”

The board unanimously voted to nix the charter application, taking the advice of the district’s Charter Review Committee. Sara Simmons, representing the committee, told trustees that by state Educational Code standards, Camptonville’s application described an “unsound educational program” and otherwise fell short of CUSD standards.

Trustees were particularly bothered by the lack of diversity in the academy’s student population, as well as the idea that the district would be legally responsible for a school with which it had misgivings, and for a school with campuses in both Chico and Paradise.