Category Archives: Lawsuits

Here Are Copies Of Many Of The Pleadings Filed With The California Supreme Court In The Monumentally Important California Public Records Act Case National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — It’s Extraordinarily Difficult To Get Copies Of Appellate Pleadings In California But I Found A Way To Do It — Which Is Also Explained Here If You’re Interested

The California Public Records Act generally mandates that every person has a right to take a look at any public record at no cost. Agencies are explicitly not allowed to charge requesters for the time it takes to search for records, organize them for inspection, or review and redact them for exempt information. The one major exception to this has to do with records stored in computers that require programming to extract information responsive to a request.1

For instance, in Los Angeles, the City Attorney maintains an SQL database of all its prosecutions. The database itself evidently contains too much data for it to be practicable for humans to review the whole thing for exemptions and produce it in its entirety. But the contents are inarguably public records, so to get access to them it’s necessary to run a query against the database. This must be written in SQL and the law allows the agency to charge the requester for the time it takes to write and run the query.

Although I do not particularly like this section of the law I can see the need for something like it. The CPRA does not in general require agencies to create new records in response to requests but in this case it has to or the public would be denied access to information in databases that were too big to review, among other records and it’s at least possible to argue that someone needs to pay for the construction of these new records. This process, by the way, is known as “extraction” in CPRA circles.

So in 2015 the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Chapter asked the City of Hayward for access to some cop videos and the City said not only did they have to redact the videos but that video redaction required special software and thus it constituted extraction and could therefore be billed to the requester. The cost was in the thousands of dollars, which the NLG paid under protest and then filed a petition asking for a refund on the theory that the charge was illegal under the law because redaction is not extraction.

The NLG won in Superior Court, the City appealed the ruling and won in Appellate Court, and the case is now before the California Supreme Court. The case is now fully briefed and we’re just waiting for oral arguments to be scheduled. You can sign up for notifications at this link, but unlike many courts, it seems that the California Supreme Court does not publish copies of pleadings filed with it until after the Court rules on a case.

Which has been driving me absolutely crazy because this case is so important and reporters, even good ones,2 consistently get the facts wrong when writing about legal matters. There is no substitute for reading the primary sources. I’ve been reduced to writing begging emails to various lawyers pleading for PDFs. And occasionally they give them to me and I write about them.3

But on Thursday I made a huge breakthrough! I was downtown for various reasons and stopped in at the County Law Library to read cases on Westlaw and I learned that they collect appellate pleadings on their site, including ones from the California Supreme Court. I looked and they did in fact have PDFs of everything filed in this monumental case! And I could read it at the Law Library computer.

Now, generally Westlaw is very good about giving copies things to users. Like past published decisions are no problem, just click a button and put in your email address and it will send you a PDF of any published opinion. So I selected all these and hit the button and told it to email and …. got a damn error message saying that these PDFs were restricted and could only be printed on paper.

Which isn’t acceptable for any number of reasons, not least because there are hundreds of pages involved and it costs money to print on paper. This is not to mention the fact that it destroys the OCR and redoing the OCR invariably introduces errors. It’s horrible. But I fooled around some more and it turns out that when viewing the PDF on the library computer it’s possible to save a local copy.

Then, because the library is kind enough to provide access to a full-featured browser, it’s possible to upload the saved PDFs to a cloud service or something similar, and get copies that way. Or log into an email account and mail them to oneself as attachments So I did something like that, and got 18 new files, and published them all on Archive.Org for you right here! And also here is a list of the whole collection with links and brief descriptions.
Continue reading Here Are Copies Of Many Of The Pleadings Filed With The California Supreme Court In The Monumentally Important California Public Records Act Case National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — It’s Extraordinarily Difficult To Get Copies Of Appellate Pleadings In California But I Found A Way To Do It — Which Is Also Explained Here If You’re Interested

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Greater Leimert Park Village BID Settles My CPRA Suit Against Them — Agrees To Pay $9,000 In Legal Fees And Costs — And Of Course To Produce Previously Requested Records — In Very High Quality Electronic Format Too — Which Is Wonky But Exceedingly Important — Especially For Future Requests

As you may recall, last November, due to their refusal to even so much as respond to my requests for material under the California Public Records Act, I was forced to file a writ petition against the Greater Leimert Park Village Business Improvment District.1 I haven’t written much about it since because it’s mostly been stalling and negotiation. However, I am pleased to announce that the other day we finally settled the damn thing!

They have agreed to pay my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, $9,000 for her time and also to produce the records. As importantly, they’ve agreed to produce the emails I asked for in EML format.2 At first the BID wanted to include a freaking nondisparagement clause and a nondisclosure clause in the agreement, but I refused and they didn’t insist. After all, disclosure and disparagement are two of the four pillars on which this blog stands!3

Get a copy of the settlement agreement here, watch for the publication of the emails when they come in, and get ready for a steady stream of information about this rapidly gentrifying area and the BID’s involvement in the processes that that entails.
Continue reading Greater Leimert Park Village BID Settles My CPRA Suit Against Them — Agrees To Pay $9,000 In Legal Fees And Costs — And Of Course To Produce Previously Requested Records — In Very High Quality Electronic Format Too — Which Is Wonky But Exceedingly Important — Especially For Future Requests

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Katherine McNenny And I Prevail Against Chinatown BID In Our California Public Records Act Lawsuit — George Yu Didn’t Participate At All — From Start To Finish No One From The BID Showed Up — Which Is Not Enough To Win This Kind Of Petition — We Still Had To Prove Our Case — Which We Did Of Course — But Yu’s Ostrichism Also Led The Judge To Deem That All Our Requests For Admission Were Admitted To — Which May Have Drastic Long-Term Consequences For The BID — Far Beyond Those Directly Associated With Our Victory — Its Very Existence May Be Threatened — Let’s Freaking Hope So, Eh?

As you probably know, last year Katherine McNenny and I were forced by the unhinged intransigent refusal of psychopathic rageball George Yu to comply with the California Public Records Act to file a lawsuit against his Chinatown Business Improvement District. For reasons known only to himself, George Yu not only refused to comply with the statute, he refused to participate in the lawsuit at all.

We were seeking a writ of mandate from the judge ordering Yu to hand over the documents. It turns out that, in California at least, courts are not allowed to issue such orders merely because the respondents don’t show up.1 It’s still required that the petitioners prove their case. Which, of course, we were able to do, because it was righteous. So last Wednesday, July 24, 2019, the trial was held, before which the judge issued a tentative ruling granting us our every wish.

The whole trial lasted about 30 seconds and consisted of the judge asking our lawyer if he wished to be heard on the tentative. He said that he did not. The judge adopted the tentative as final and told the lawyer we could have our notebook back. You can get a copy of the tentative ruling here and a copy of the minute order showing that it was adopted as final here.

There are a bunch more steps before everything’s done. We have to serve the final ruling on the BID, the judge has to sign the order, we have to file a motion to get paid, probably will have to file more stuff to enforce all that stuff. These wheels have been turning very slowly since August 2018 when we filed, and they continue to turn slowly, but they’re crushing everything in their path as they turn.
Continue reading Katherine McNenny And I Prevail Against Chinatown BID In Our California Public Records Act Lawsuit — George Yu Didn’t Participate At All — From Start To Finish No One From The BID Showed Up — Which Is Not Enough To Win This Kind Of Petition — We Still Had To Prove Our Case — Which We Did Of Course — But Yu’s Ostrichism Also Led The Judge To Deem That All Our Requests For Admission Were Admitted To — Which May Have Drastic Long-Term Consequences For The BID — Far Beyond Those Directly Associated With Our Victory — Its Very Existence May Be Threatened — Let’s Freaking Hope So, Eh?

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Fashion District BID CPRA Lawsuit News! — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Files Order Denying My Petition In Part And Granting In Part — Invalidates Some Of BID’s Exemption Claims — Which Is A Win — Also Orders New Search In Response To One Of My Requests — Denies Some Other Stuff — Including My Request For Declaratory Relief — Does Not Rule On The Question Of Whether BID Board Members Using Private Email Accounts Are Subject To The CPRA

After a bunch of incredibly vigorous argument at the hearing last month, for which Judge Mitchell Beckloff did not prepare a written tentative ruling, he has issued his final ruling. Get a copy of it here, and other pleadings in the case here. Read on for transcribed selections, which I am not commenting on at all until every part of the case is resolved, because I’m not really competent to do so, but I wanted to publish this because it’s important, at least to me.
Continue reading Fashion District BID CPRA Lawsuit News! — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Files Order Denying My Petition In Part And Granting In Part — Invalidates Some Of BID’s Exemption Claims — Which Is A Win — Also Orders New Search In Response To One Of My Requests — Denies Some Other Stuff — Including My Request For Declaratory Relief — Does Not Rule On The Question Of Whether BID Board Members Using Private Email Accounts Are Subject To The CPRA

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Saghafi V. Pali High Trial Scheduled For August 19, 2019 — At 10 a.m. — Mosk Courthouse Department 72 — But Before That Everyone Filed About A Zillion Motions On Monday — And They Will All Be Heard On August 9, 2019 — At 8:30 A.M. — Obviously Also In Dept 72 — And I Have The First Page Of All Of Them — But Complete Copies Of Only Three — Because They Are Really Expensive — And I At Least Am Not A Damn Zillionaire

This is just the quickest briefest note imaginable to let you all know the state of the case of Saghafi v. Pali High, in which former teacher Saghafi will seek to prove in court the clearly true but maybe not so easy to prove in court theory that these Pali High folks are a bunch of damn racists and that they due to their damn racism, messed her up big-time. You can read my previous stories for background first here and then here.

And the trial, which was previously scheduled for July, was postponed until August 19, 2019 at 10 AM in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in good old Department 72. And as is their lawyerly wont, just this very Monday, all the lawyers filed about a zillion motions, because I don’t know, perhaps that was the last day to do it. And the Los Angeles County Superior Court charges about a zillion dollars a page for PDFs of pleadings but they give one the first page for free.

I don’t have time to write about any of this in detail, but I do have some of the motions and all of the previews, and there are links and some very brief comments below. The motions themselves are to be heard in Department 72 on August 9, 2019 at 8:30 AM. I am not completely sure I can make it but I will certainly try my best!
Continue reading Saghafi V. Pali High Trial Scheduled For August 19, 2019 — At 10 a.m. — Mosk Courthouse Department 72 — But Before That Everyone Filed About A Zillion Motions On Monday — And They Will All Be Heard On August 9, 2019 — At 8:30 A.M. — Obviously Also In Dept 72 — And I Have The First Page Of All Of Them — But Complete Copies Of Only Three — Because They Are Really Expensive — And I At Least Am Not A Damn Zillionaire

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News About My CPRA Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles Concerning Emails Between CD1 And LAPD — The City Has Abandoned Its Exemption Claims And Provided More Than 200 Pages Of Records — Which Is Good News On The Prevailing Party Front — And At Least One Of The Newly Released Emails Is Exceedingly Important — Not To Mention Appalling — Shows Gil Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez Calling In A Homeless Encampment Sweep — In February 2019 — At The Explicit Behest Of Sociopathic Developer Trammell Crow — Because The Mere Presence Of Displaceable Homeless Human Beings Was Interfering With A Project Schedule — Senior Vice President And Failed Screen Actor Alex Valente Has A Lot To Answer For — As Does Gil Freaking Cedillo — And Jose Rodriguez — And Everyone Else Involved In This Abuse Of Municipal Power

There are two parts to today’s story. First, recall that last month I was forced by the arbitrary, pointless, and utterly inscrutable intransigence of Gil Cedillo‘s Senior Policy Deputy Mel Ilomin to file yet another writ petition against the City of Los Angeles seeking to enforce compliance with the California Public Records Act. And I have some excellent news about this, which is that yesterday the City completely abandoned its indefensible exemption claims and produced more than 200 pages of material responsive to the request at issue. It came to me in two PDFs, which you can get copies of here:

CPRA emails part 1.pdf

CPRA emails part 2.pdf

You might recall that Ilomin, completely backstopped by ought-to-know-better Deputy City Attorney Strefan Fauble, had claimed that every single one of these emails was exempt due to that putative deliberative process nonsense that the City of Los Angeles loves so well. And I won’t belabor the details, but if you read through the yield, you’ll see that this exemption claim was entirely unfounded, indefensible, just utter nonsense. For instance, a nontrivial number of these emails are widely published announcements that there will be mobile showers available on various dates at Lincoln Park which, whatever the hell they may be, aren’t exempt from production under any theory acceptable to even the marginally sane.

And there’s some other reasonably interesting material in there, about some of which I might write at some point. But there is also one exceedingly important record, which is this February 2019 email conversation between Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez and a long list of LAPD officers, LAHSA staffers, and others, scheduling a sweep of homeless encampments along Llewellyn Street in Chinatown for the explicitly stated reason that they were impeding construction on a huge housing development owned by the Trammell Crow Company, done at the request of Trammell Crow’s senior vice president Alex Valente.

Now, you might recall an instance where an encampment was swept for no better reason than that Eric Garcetti was making a political appearance in the area later. This incident was reported in the Los Angeles Times and evoked the following quasi-denial from Garcetti’s spokesman Alex Comisar, who said it did “not reflect the mayor’s approach to interacting with Angelenos experiencing homelessness.” And this same tired implausible story of utter compassion is told by everyone involved with homelessness no matter how messed up their motives actually are. Our City officials, just ask them, do not use the vast municipal power entrusted to them to fuck up the lives of the unhoused for petty stupid venal purposes.

Even, no doubt, Gil Cedillo will tell you what a goddamned humanitarian he is on these lines. And yet when we look at what he does, what they all do, well, here is Cedillo’s staff arranging for homeless human beings to be displaced from their community just because some sociopathic zillionaire didn’t want his damned construction project to be held up. And the sweep did take place. In fact, on the very next day, February 26, 2019, as reported by Joanna Swan on Twitter, because that’s where the City’s priorities are, what their actions are, no matter what their empty words might suggest. Read a transcription below, and if you haven’t done so already, look into Services Not Sweeps.
Continue reading News About My CPRA Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles Concerning Emails Between CD1 And LAPD — The City Has Abandoned Its Exemption Claims And Provided More Than 200 Pages Of Records — Which Is Good News On The Prevailing Party Front — And At Least One Of The Newly Released Emails Is Exceedingly Important — Not To Mention Appalling — Shows Gil Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez Calling In A Homeless Encampment Sweep — In February 2019 — At The Explicit Behest Of Sociopathic Developer Trammell Crow — Because The Mere Presence Of Displaceable Homeless Human Beings Was Interfering With A Project Schedule — Senior Vice President And Failed Screen Actor Alex Valente Has A Lot To Answer For — As Does Gil Freaking Cedillo — And Jose Rodriguez — And Everyone Else Involved In This Abuse Of Municipal Power

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Coalition Of Local Fascists File Motion Asking Judge Otero To Let Them Intervene And Object To The City’s Settlement With The Mitchell Plaintiffs — Here’s A Copy Of Their Self-Serving And Mendacious Motion — Hearing On Calendar For August 12, 2019 At 10 AM — Courtroom 10C — First Street Federal Courthouse

In March 2019 the Los Angeles City Council voted to settle Mitchell v. City of LA, the monumental federal civil rights case over homeless property rights. The impending settlement has inspired an astounding amount of delusional ranting from zillionaires and their willing minions over the last year or two, including this unparalleled slice of whatever-it-is from the CCALA. And no one listened to them, although the Daily News, which, it’s true, is not exactly Der Sturmer but, it’s also true, is not exactly not Der Sturmer, did publish this pandering slab of nonsense from Councilmember Joe Buscaino, one of two to vote against settling.

And a few weeks ago all these zillionaires got together and filed a motion with the court hearing the case, presided over by James Otero, asking for permission to intervene for the purpose of objecting to the settlement, a story covered by no one, it seems, other than the Daily News. There are transcribed selections below. And I don’t really know enough to be able to comment on the motion, other than to say I have mixed feelings.

That is, the people seeking to intervene are certainly fascists and liars. They mix incredibly disingenuous claims about their love and compassion for all humanity with lies about disease and advocacy for extreme oppression of homeless people. They actually cite the actual freaking Daily Freaking Mail in their brief. They lie about the levels of crime, of violence, they cite Drew Freaking Pinsky as if he were anything more than a lying hack himself. If they’re given a free hand to set policy they’ll deport homeless people, even housed poor people, off to the desert to live in camps, bleating the whole while about how they only want the best for their victims.

On the other hand, I do agree that their interests, as abhorrent as they are, aren’t adequately represented by any of the parties to the case, and I do agree in general that there are such circumstances in which people ought to be able to intervene in court cases when that happens. And I also agree with them that the fact that the City Council deliberated on the settlement in closed session is antithetical to democracy. So I’m going to leave the commentary up to the only person whose thoughts really matter, and that’s Judge Otero. The parties’ reply briefs are due tomorrow and I will publish them here if any are filed, which I imagine they will be.
Continue reading Coalition Of Local Fascists File Motion Asking Judge Otero To Let Them Intervene And Object To The City’s Settlement With The Mitchell Plaintiffs — Here’s A Copy Of Their Self-Serving And Mendacious Motion — Hearing On Calendar For August 12, 2019 At 10 AM — Courtroom 10C — First Street Federal Courthouse

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Petitioner’s Trial Brief Filed In My Lawsuit Against The Historic Core BID — Get A Copy Here — Read About How Blair Besten Did Not Search The BID’s Mailchimp Account For Responsive Emails Because — Wait For It — She Does Not Consider What Mailchimp Sends To Be Emails — And Other Stories — Trial On The Calendar For September 3, 2019 At 1:30 PM — Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 85

Perhaps you recall that in August 2018, due to the unhinged intransigent obstructionism of both Ms. Blair Besten, the half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core, and Mr. Jeffrey Charles Briggs, the self-proclaimed Hollywood superlawyer with whom she cahoots, I was forced to file a petition to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act with a trial scheduled for September 3, 2019 at 1:30 PM in Department 85 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Well time rolls on, one damn day at a time, we’re all done with meeting and conferring and discovery and all the suchlike pleasant pastimes in which we, the litigious few, engage like some elaborate dance before the main event, and now it’s time to file our trial brief. So that’s just what we did, just yesterday, and you can get a copy here.

And what a brief it is, friends, elaborating as it does on not just the broad overview of the utter unhingedness of Besten’s intransigent obstructionism, but both the nitty and the gritty, every last gritty little grain, of it, spelled out in painstaking detail like a tale told not by but certainly of an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying a lot of something about a whole damn lot of nothing.

Read on for some selections! Although, listen, I’m leaving out all the small-scale details of the BID’s abject failure to respond properly to my requests, where they sent 19 emails here and 17 emails there, none of which were responsive, and then repeated this over and over and over again and then was all like computer problems! Logistical difficulties! Boo freaking boo-hoo-hoo! That right there is a far more than adequate summary.

Also I’m leaving out the details of the requests, which were for interesting emails, which is more than enough detail to follow the argument. If you want to read all that stuff, and the supporting evidence, and it is certainly worth reading, read the whole brief!

Don’t miss the place where Blair Besten insisted under oath that those things that Mailchimp sends out to subscribers aren’t emails, they’re newsletters, and then when asked again if they were emails she was instructed by her supergenius of a lawyer, Mr. Jeffrey Charles Briggs, not to answer as the question called for an expert opinion. Also check out the super-mathematical agreement I made with the BID for production schedules for future requests!
Continue reading Petitioner’s Trial Brief Filed In My Lawsuit Against The Historic Core BID — Get A Copy Here — Read About How Blair Besten Did Not Search The BID’s Mailchimp Account For Responsive Emails Because — Wait For It — She Does Not Consider What Mailchimp Sends To Be Emails — And Other Stories — Trial On The Calendar For September 3, 2019 At 1:30 PM — Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 85

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City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — This Time It’s Over CD1’s Obstinate Refusal To Produce Emails Between Staffer Jose Rodriguez And Two LAPD Officers About Homeless Encampments In CD1 — On The Advice Of The City Attorney Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin Claimed A Series Of Bogus And Ever-Shifting Exemptions — But I Got Two Responsive Records From LAPD — Which Show The Utter Implausibility Of The Exemption Claims

As you know, one of my long-term projects is using the public records act to understand how and why the City of Los Angeles schedules sweeps of homeless encampments and related enforcement actions. Emails between Council offices and either LAPD or LA Sanitation have been essential in this effort. For instance, a monumental recent email release from LAPD revealed a number of essential facts.

First, that CD11 staffer Taylor Bazley, despite official denials, had been complicit in the illegal placement of anti-homeless planters in Venice. This revelation led, in turn, to my filing a complaint against a list of LAPD officers with the Internal Affairs Division and a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Bazley. These same emails revealed that CD11 itself had been illegally withholding incredibly important records in the face of a number of my pending CPRA requests, which led to my filing another writ petition against the City seeking to compel the release of those materials.

And also, there among these 1,200 pages of stuff, were a couple emails between CD1 staffer Jose Rodriguez and a couple of police officers, Arturo Siguenas and Ruben Arellano, about homeless encampments and sweep scheduling at an encampment on Avenue 61 between Figueroa Street and Piedmont Avenue, one block to the North. Here’s the first one and also the second one. These emails in themselves are fairly innocuous, but since other emails in the release had turned out to be so very consequential, and since CD1 is a particular interest of mine although not, so far, with respect to homelessness, the importance of tracing this thread further was quite clear.

Thus I sent a request for all emails between Rodriguez and these two officers from between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019, the day before the date of the request:1
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — This Time It’s Over CD1’s Obstinate Refusal To Produce Emails Between Staffer Jose Rodriguez And Two LAPD Officers About Homeless Encampments In CD1 — On The Advice Of The City Attorney Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin Claimed A Series Of Bogus And Ever-Shifting Exemptions — But I Got Two Responsive Records From LAPD — Which Show The Utter Implausibility Of The Exemption Claims

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Roya Saghafi Files Ex Parte Motion To Continue Trial Because — According To Her But Entirely Believably — Pali High Is Not Cooperating With Discovery — And Some Other Reasons Too I Guess


UPDATE: The motion described here was granted on June 24, 2019 and the trial was rescheduled to Monday, August 19 at 10 a.m in Dept. 72, Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

This is just a super-quick note to let you know that Roya Saghafi, former science teacher at Pali High who’s now suing them for racism and other characteristically Palisadesean evils, has filed an ex parte motion asking the court to postpone the trial, now scheduled for July 29, until some time in September.

You can get a copy of the motion here, and there’s a transcription below. The motion is scheduled to be heard on Monday, June 24, at 8:30 AM in Department 72, Stanley Mosk Courthouse. If you’re interested, here’s a copy of Saghafi’s complaint, and another story that’s tangentially about the case.

Saghafi’s motion is pretty interesting, though. One of the reasons for asking for a delay is that Pali High has been uncooperative with the discovery process. Saghafi has not, for instance, yet been able to depose Doctor Pamela Magee, Supreme Commander of Pali High.

It’s also really worth taking a look at Saghafi’s lawyer’s declaration in support of this motion, which has tons of emails and letters between the parties trying to get depos scheduled and obtain discovery materials, mostly to no freaking avail at all.

There aren’t many wholesome reasons for evading depositions, but pretty many unwholesome ones. Anyway, I probably won’t go to this hearing on Monday because it’s at the same time as Jose Huizar’s motion to stay Mayra Alvarez’s case against him, but I will certainly let you know what happened!
Continue reading Roya Saghafi Files Ex Parte Motion To Continue Trial Because — According To Her But Entirely Believably — Pali High Is Not Cooperating With Discovery — And Some Other Reasons Too I Guess

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