But the group could have been making its case to a Democrat originally appointed to the bench by Gov. Jerry Brown — and instead opted for Republican A. James Robertson II.

The strategic moves form the backdrop of a court challenge to the city’s new condominium conversion law. The law is designed to discourage evictions by owners acting as tenants in common. After failing as a ballot measure, it was passed by the board of supervisors, vetoed by Mayor Willie Brown Jr., and then reinstated by the board when it overrode Brown’s veto in June.