City of Los Angeles Files Boilerplate Motion in Stop LAPD Spying CPRA Case Stating that Judge Joanne O’Donnell is too Prejudiced to Officiate

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell.
There’s a (relatively) new development in the Stop LAPD Spying v. City of L.A. Public Records Act case. Unfortunately the L.A. County Superior Court doesn’t seem to have an automated filing notification system like the Federal District Courts do, which is why I missed (until now) this interesting motion that the City of L.A. filed on January 12, 2016. It is a Motion for an Order Establishing Peremptory Challenge to Judicial Officer as well as a Declaration of Julie Raffish. Julie Raffish is the Deputy City Attorney that’s defending the case for L.A. In this declaration she claims that:

Joanne O’Donnell, the judge before whom the trial or hearing in this action is pending or to whom it has been assigned, is prejudiced against the Respondent
[City of Los Angeles] or its attorney or the interest of the Respondent or its attorney, so that the declarant [Julie Raffish] believes that she cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge.

Now, this is obviously a boilerplate motion, and, at least as of today, the first three hits on a Google search on los angeles superior court peremptory challenge to judicial officer are forms for this, using the identical language to the motion filed by Julie Raffish. But there’s more!

The fourth hit is an appellate opinion in Fry v. Superior Court, which derived from Fry v. City of Los Angeles, which has something to do with pensions. In that case, it seems, it was the people suing the City who filed a motion claiming that Joanne O’Donnell was prejudiced against them!

Also, consider the ACLU/EFF suit over automated license plate readers, which also involved a request for a writ of mandate to obey the California Public Records Act. This was originally filed in 2013 and heard before Judge O’Donnell (see initial complaint here, and look here for a selection of other filings). All the filings through that I’ve seen through March 2014 have Judge O’Donnell’s name on them, but the August 2014 order denying the petition was issued over the signature of Judge James Chalfant. Not only that, but the County of Los Angeles, also sued in that action, tried to get that judge changed also. What does it mean? I couldn’t say. That case, by the way, is headed for the California Supreme Court as of October 2015.

In any case, the City doesn’t like Judge O’Donnell in this case, which makes me think she’s dandy. I don’t exactly know why they’re fighting this instead of fixing the LAPD’s response to CPRA requests. This is not a hard case, it calls for no interpretation of facts whatsoever, and the LAPD clearly violated the plain letter of the law.


Image of Judge Joanne O’Donnell is ©2016 Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, but we’re deep-linking to it, so we’re all good!

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