Last month (on May 5) Judge James Chalfant, who’s presiding over the CPRA lawsuit filed by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition to address the LAPD’s utterly lawless noncompliance with the California Public Records Act, entered an order setting the hearing date to Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. This will be in Chalfant’s courtroom, which is Department 85 (room 834) in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse at 111 North Hill Street. I’m sorry for the late notice, but the LA County Superior Courts don’t offer an RSS feed or any other way to be notified of new filings.
Plaintiff Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and respondent City of Los Angeles agreed in a stipulation filed with LA County Superior Court on March 3, 2016, to continue the trial setting conference, originally scheduled for March 7, 2016, until April 7, 2016. The reasons given in the order (with attendant whereases) include:
WHEREAS, after filing of the complaint, the Respondent has produced two sets of responsive documents to Petitioners and continues to search for responsive documents;
WHEREAS, the parties are engaged in ongoing informal discussions about further production…
It’s my impression that if filing a suit encourages the respondent to cough up the goodies then they’re still on the hook for the court costs and attorney’s fees. So it’s fitting and proper that the City is producing documents and talking to the plaintiffs, but they would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble but just following the law in the first place.
Why is the City of LA fighting this lawsuit? What a freaking waste of time and money. On January 26, 2016, the City of Los Angeles filed its answer to the petition filed by Colleen Flynn and Carol Sobel on behalf of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and the National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles seeking a writ of mandate ordering the LAPD to stop messing about and turn over the goddamned goodies. (You can find a collection of filings from this suit here). Paragraphs 1 through 9 of the initial complaint are background, and Julie Raffish, who wrote the answer, gets to indulge her evident taste for dark sarcasm in her responses, e.g. at paragraph 4 denying that the NLG is a non-profit legal association.
She also displays a wry, deadpan humor. For instance, in paragraph 3 the plaintiffs assert that the Coalition to Stop LAPD Spying “empowers its members to work collectively against police repression and to dismantle domestic spying operations” and that therefore the Coalition has an interest in the LAPD’s adhering to the Public Records Act. Julie Raffish has the City admitting that the Coalition is interested, but claiming that, as to the rest of the allegations they “lack sufficient information and knowledge to form a belief as to the truth…” of, I guess, whether there are “police repression” and “domestic spying operations” to be dismantled and worked collectively against. Dry as a bone, is Julie Raffish, and isn’t lawyerly humor fun! But the public records stuff is where it gets really interesting: Continue reading City of Los Angeles Files Answer to Stop LAPD Spying Coalition Public Records Act Petition: Admits Guilt, Expects Reward→
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.
On December 22, 2015, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and the hyperactive-in-a-good-way National Lawyers Guild LA filed suit in LA Superior Court against the City of Los Angeles because of egregious violations of the California Public Records Act. According to Pete White of the LA Community Action Network, the LAPD needs to “…know they need to—at a minimum—follow the laws…they tell us we need to follow.” I got copies of everything that’s been filed to date and put it all in a directory here. There’s not so much, but the initial complaint is a monster, weighing in at 180 pages. Most of that is exhibits, including a lengthy U.S. Senate report on Homeland Security funding of and involvement in domestic police spying operations and a copy of a “Special Order” authorizing an ongoing LAPD spying program and a bunch of other documents. The LAPD stuff starts on page 125 of the PDF. I’ll separate and post the various documents individually when I have time. Anyway, the petition has an excellent introduction outlining the public’s interest in the records that the group is seeking and a very tidy summary of what I know from personal experience is the maddening stubborn inactivity of the LAPD in the face of the transcendently clear mandate of the CPRA to respond to requests within 10 days. My only quibble is that I wish they’d also mentioned the LAPD’s absolute and illegal refusal to provide copies of records that they hold in electronic formats, e.g. email, in those electronic formats rather than printing them out on paper and redacting them with a marker. But they know the law and its ways better than I, so I’ll hush up about it. Continue reading Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and National Lawyers Guild LA File Suit Against City of LA Over Egregious LAPD CPRA Violations–Court Papers Available Here→