Category Archives: Lawsuits

Fashion District BID Refuses To Accept The Fact That Judge Mitchell Beckloff Ruled Against Them In My Current Public Records Suit — So On Monday They Appealed The Ruling — Here’s A Copy Of Their Appeal Brief — But No Commentary Because At This Point The Details Are Beyond Me

This is just the briefest of brief little notes to announce that the Fashion District BID, which I was forced to sue because of their surreally intransigent refusal to comply with the damn law, and which got ruled against in July by Judge Mitchell Beckloff, is doubling down on their nonsense by appealing Beckloff’s decision! Here’s a copy of their brief and, as evidently even Bradley & Gmelich can see that unhinged BID attorney Carol Humiston is not to be trusted, they’ve brought in a ringer, Dawn Cushman, to write the damn thing.

At this point the issues are chasing one another’s tails in some high-altitude lawyerly empyrean hypersphere where normal folks like me can’t even breathe, let alone provide color commentary. I can’t even transcribe selections because who knows what to select?! Although even despite my ignorance I’m perfectly able to mock Cushman’s turgid and repetitive prose!1 So here’s a link to the brief they filed, and I’ll let you know if anything comprehensible happens!
Continue reading Fashion District BID Refuses To Accept The Fact That Judge Mitchell Beckloff Ruled Against Them In My Current Public Records Suit — So On Monday They Appealed The Ruling — Here’s A Copy Of Their Appeal Brief — But No Commentary Because At This Point The Details Are Beyond Me

Share

City Of Los Angeles Concedes Defeat In My California Public Records Act Petition Based On Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin’s Wildly Unsupportable Exemption Claims — They Settled Up And Paid $4,720 In Fees And Costs — It Seems To Me Personally That It Would Be More Efficient Just To Follow The Damn Law From The Get-Go — Rather Than Paying $5K Every Time Some Council Staffer Feels Like Throwing His Toys From The Pram — But I Am Willing To Admit That I Have Zero Experience In Running Major Cities — So Perhaps This Loss Is A Net Win For The City In Some Inscrutable Way That We Amateurs Have No Hope Of Unscrewing — Concluding With An Unscientific Postscript On What Bethelwel Wilson’s Petulance Reveals About Some Ad Hoc Bullshit CPRA Obstructionism That Mike Dundas Made Up One Time

Recall that in June of this year I was forced by the utterly indefensible intransigence of Gil Cedillo staffer Mel Ilomin, who would persist in his bizarre claims that some emails between his office and LAPD were exempt from production under the California Public Records Act, to file a writ petition seeking to enforce my rights under that hallowed law. And less than a month later the City caved and produced a bunch of emails.

Which, as you may know, makes me the prevailing party which, as you also may know, means that the City must pay my attorney’s fees and the court costs, which they just recently did to the tune of $4,720, and here is a copy of the settlement agreement laying out the terms.1 And one of the tragic aspects of this basically silly little case is that they have not mended their ways in the least. City offices continue to make totally bogus exemption claims for which the only remedy is another suit. And if that’s what the City wants, well, I’m not going to be the one to disappoint them.

Oh, yes, the interesting thing about that settlement!2 So the CPRA imposes various duties on local agencies, local agency being something of a term of art in CPRA-ology3 meaning “entity subject to the CPRA.” Like for instance, when a local agency receives a request, the local agency must respond in ten days.4 And when a local agency once releases some records to any member of the public, then by law the local agency has thenceforth and for all time waived the possibility of claiming exemptions and must therefore release that same record to anyone who asks for it.5
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Concedes Defeat In My California Public Records Act Petition Based On Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin’s Wildly Unsupportable Exemption Claims — They Settled Up And Paid $4,720 In Fees And Costs — It Seems To Me Personally That It Would Be More Efficient Just To Follow The Damn Law From The Get-Go — Rather Than Paying $5K Every Time Some Council Staffer Feels Like Throwing His Toys From The Pram — But I Am Willing To Admit That I Have Zero Experience In Running Major Cities — So Perhaps This Loss Is A Net Win For The City In Some Inscrutable Way That We Amateurs Have No Hope Of Unscrewing — Concluding With An Unscientific Postscript On What Bethelwel Wilson’s Petulance Reveals About Some Ad Hoc Bullshit CPRA Obstructionism That Mike Dundas Made Up One Time

Share

Judge Beckloff Signs Judgment Granting Writ Of Mandate In Our California Public Records Act Petition Against The Chinatown BID — This Puts His Earlier Order Into Force And Gives The BID 30 Days-Ish To Produce The Damn Records — But I’m Guessing They Will Ignore This Too — So We Will See What Happens!

The latest development in the ongoing saga of Katherine McNenny’s and my California Public Records Act suit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District is that the judge signed a judgment granting our petition for a writ of mandate.1 You can get a copy here on Archive.Org.2 This gives the BID 30 days to comply, and we shall certainly see what happens.

Note that the signing of this judgment is not unexpected news, as we prevailed in court last month, but without this step, putting last month’s order into force, there’s no way to compel the BID to comply, which it seems pretty clearly is going to be necessary since they have shown no signs of being willing to comply in the absence of compulsion.

Without the excellent and relentless work of our lawyers, Abenicio Cisneros and Anna von Herrmann, by the way, none of this would have happened. Cisneros has also blogged about the victory from the lawyerly point of view, absolutely worth reading. Stay tuned for further developments.
Continue reading Judge Beckloff Signs Judgment Granting Writ Of Mandate In Our California Public Records Act Petition Against The Chinatown BID — This Puts His Earlier Order Into Force And Gives The BID 30 Days-Ish To Produce The Damn Records — But I’m Guessing They Will Ignore This Too — So We Will See What Happens!

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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?

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share