Tag Archives: Carol Humiston

Court Summarily Denies Fashion District’s Idiotic Petition Appealing The Fact That They Lost My Damn Public Records Suit Against Them — It’s True That The City Of Los Angeles Unconditionally Bows Down Before These BIDdies But The Rest Of The World Clearly Isn’t So Impressed With Their Nonsense — There’s A Lesson In That For Them But Evidently They Aren’t Learning It

This is just the quickest of quick little posts with no purpose beyond reminding you that (a) I am suing the Fashion District BID over public records and (b) they lost the damn suit in July 2019 and (c) they had an embarrassingly toys-from-pram moment and filed a stupidly intemperate appeal less than two weeks ago. Well, today, this very day, September 30, their appeal was summarily denied by the court in a terse two sentence order which could be translated from the legalese as something like “stop wasting our damn time and get out of my office you civically illiterate six-fingered morons.”

So that’s another fifty grand or so in public tax money, burned at the altar of their narcissistic self-regard by Rena Leddy, Mark Chatoff, and the rest of the Fashionista BIDdies.1 If only their lawyer, the weirdly angry Carol L. Humiston, would advise them in their own best interest to stop fooling about wasting other people’s money and hand over the damn records, which they’re ultimately going to be forced to do anyway, well, the world would be better off, but then I guess we wouldn’t have all these interesting blog posts! Stay tuned for round infinity, friends, cause you know it’s on the agenda!
Continue reading Court Summarily Denies Fashion District’s Idiotic Petition Appealing The Fact That They Lost My Damn Public Records Suit Against Them — It’s True That The City Of Los Angeles Unconditionally Bows Down Before These BIDdies But The Rest Of The World Clearly Isn’t So Impressed With Their Nonsense — There’s A Lesson In That For Them But Evidently They Aren’t Learning It

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World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Carol Humiston — Counseled Her Clients — The South Park BID — To Violate The Law — Not That They Needed Counseling To Do This — But It Is Against The State Bar’s Rules Of Professional Conduct For Lawyers To Do This — So — As You May Recall — I Turned Her In To The Bar Investigators — But The Other Day They Rejected My Complaint — For Reasons That Would Make That Particular Bar Rule Completely Unenforceable — Which Can’t Actually Be Correct Because Why Would The Bar — Or Anyone — Have Intrinsically Unenforceable Rules? — So I Filed An Appeal Of The Closure — And You Can Get Your Copy Here!

Oh boy, friends, a small setback in my ongoing project aimed at getting Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, disgraced, disgruntled,1 and, of course, disbarred. As you may recall, she counseled her ne’er-do-well clients, the South Park BIDdies, to absolutely flout the law by violating the public records act in any number of really weirdly flamboyant ways. And I discovered this because the BIDdies were kind enough to waive any possible exemption claims, if there ever were any, to some emails in which Humiston discussed her advice with them and with others.2

And the California State Bar Association has a rule against this kind of thing, Rule 1.2.1, which states “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent, or a violation of any law, rule, or ruling of a tribunal.”. So, naturally, I reported Humiston to the Bar Association in April. Well, they finally got around to responding, and, sadly, they rejected my complaint with this spiritually bankrupt letter, basically claiming that (a) the evidence was all privileged so they couldn’t consider it and (b) they weren’t able to determine if the BIDdies had broken the law.

Of course, these reasons miss the point entirely, which is that (a) the BIDdies waived any privilege by releasing the emails freely and (b) whether or not the BIDdies broke the law is beside the point since the complaint was about whether Humiston told them to break the law. This can’t rely on them actually breaking the law, otherwise you’re going to have to allow lawyers counseling their clients to, e.g., lie in wait to kill and eat their enemies, and as long as the clients don’t actually do it the lawyers haven’t violated the Bar rule.

That can’t be right, so obviously my complaint was closed in error. So I wrote a lengthy and comprehensive appeal and sent it off to the head office up north in the City and County of3 and you can read transcribed selections below, and stay tuned for the latest news!
Continue reading World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Carol Humiston — Counseled Her Clients — The South Park BID — To Violate The Law — Not That They Needed Counseling To Do This — But It Is Against The State Bar’s Rules Of Professional Conduct For Lawyers To Do This — So — As You May Recall — I Turned Her In To The Bar Investigators — But The Other Day They Rejected My Complaint — For Reasons That Would Make That Particular Bar Rule Completely Unenforceable — Which Can’t Actually Be Correct Because Why Would The Bar — Or Anyone — Have Intrinsically Unenforceable Rules? — So I Filed An Appeal Of The Closure — And You Can Get Your Copy Here!

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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

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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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My California Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The Fashion District BID Is Now Fully Briefed In Anticipation Of The Trial — Which Will Take Place On Wednesday June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM At The Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86 — Get Copies Of Everything Here — And Maybe I’ll See You There!

Recall that last August I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of the Fashion District BID to file a petition asking a judge to force them to comply with the California Public Records Act. Things are moving towards the end, and the trial will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 9:30 AM at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Department 86 before Judge Mitchell Beckloff. It looks to be a barn burner, friends, because these BIDdies are really, really angry.

And the way these trials work is that sixty days before trial my lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, files a so-called opening brief, which lays out the case, only outlined in the initial petition, in full detail with all the evidence, argument, and citations to relevant cases. Then thirty days before the opposition files their reply brief, in full detail with all the obstructionist bullshit for which they’re famous. Finally, fifteen days before, we file a reply to the reply and that’s that.

All that briefing is done now, and below find links to everything. There’s a lot of it, and I’m not going to comment on any of it to avoid jinxes, but I will note that the Fashion District’s reply, written by one or both of Bradley & Gmelich galaxy-brains Barry Bradley and Carol Humiston, is an extraordinarily careless piece of work. They consistently misspell the names of cases they’re citing and in one especially egregious case they not only get the name of the case completely wrong, but they get the year wrong too.1

This would be inconsequential if the case weren’t central to everyone’s arguments in this trial and if it weren’t a key component of their argument that the case was decided after I made the requests at issue here. In fact the case was decided before the requests. It’s really unbelievable that seasoned putative professionals made this kind of error, but it seems that they did. Anyway, I hope to see you at the trial, and I’ll be happy to buy you lunch when it’s over if you want to hang out!
Continue reading My California Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The Fashion District BID Is Now Fully Briefed In Anticipation Of The Trial — Which Will Take Place On Wednesday June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM At The Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86 — Get Copies Of Everything Here — And Maybe I’ll See You There!

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A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Don’t know if you’re aware, but in September 2018 the California Court of Appeal held that local agencies could charge CPRA requesters for staff time for redacting electronic records. In particular, the City of Hayward charged the National Lawyers Guild more than $3,000 to redact some parts of bodycam videos. It’s well-established for paper records that agencies must allow inspection at no cost and if copies are requested, can charge only the direct cost of copying.

The Court of Appeals based its opinion on the CPRA’s much-abused §6253.9(b)(2) which states that an agency can charge a requester for the bare privilege of inspecting a record under a small set of very specific circumstances:

… the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when … [t]he request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

The court’s reasoning was that redaction of a video constitutes extraction required to produce the record. Sane people can see, however, that the video already exists. Nothing is required to produce it. This section is talking about e.g. running queries against databases, where the requester only wants certain information and the results of the query constitute a new record that “would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce.”

And as you can imagine, after this opinion was published, obstructionist anti-CPRA lawyers all over the state started drooling on their pillows in glee. For instance, Carol Humiston, the soon-to-be-disbarred Rasputinian ear-whisperer to transparency-averse business improvement districts all over Los Angeles, advised her clients on the basis of this decision to assert that if I wanted to see any more of their damn emails I would have to pay for them to buy Adobe Pro so that they could redact them.

She backed off on this outlandish claim after I pointed out repeatedly that emails weren’t found in the wild as PDFs so that there was no case to be made for purchasing an expensive PDF editor to do a job that the built-in text editors that come with every computer operating system could do better. However, the LAPD also glommed onto this case, and the City Attorney’s office began theorizing madly, and now if you submit a request to LAPD for emails through NextRequest you’re met with an aggressive notice warning you that you’re going to pay and pay and pay unless you withdraw your request right now, and the notice explicitly cites the case.

So yeah, this opinion sucks and sucks big time, and it doesn’t just suck in theory, it’s actively sucking in practice even now as I write these very words. But at least it was appealed to the California Supreme Court. And at least the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. And papers have been filed, but it turns out to be really hard to get pleadings out of the Supreme Court.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of interesting items. Here’s an amicus letter from a coalition of public interest law firms and activist organizations explaining the harm that the decision is doing. And here’s the opening brief, which explains in well-reasoned and exceedinly convincing terms why the Court should reverse this extraordinarily bad appellate decision. Both are fabulously worth reading, and there’s a transcription of the amicus letter after the break.
Continue reading A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

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Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

It’s been a while since I wrote about the lawsuit that I was forced to file in August 2018 by the unhinged intransigence of the Fashion District BID, pursued by them in line with the unhinged intransigence of their soon-to-be-disbarred attorney, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, Ms. Carol Ann Humiston, in order to enforce my rights to read their damn emails. But time rolls on and the trial, scheduled for June 26, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, is rapidly approaching.

Thus did my attorneys, Abenicio Cisneros and Karl Olson, file the trial brief with the court on Friday. The arguments are overwhelmingly powerful, and you can read substantial excerpts after the break. If I were the Fashion District after reading this I’d be ready to settle up and settle up quick. But they’re clearly on some kind of a mission with an axe to grind and a point to prove and I certainly don’t expect them to start acting sensible at this point. After all, it’s not their own money they’re squandering on Ms. Humiston’s exorbitant fees.1

As I said, you can read the specifics in the excerpts below, but there are two main general issues at stake. First is the fact that the BID relies heavily on the so-called catch-all exemption to the CPRA, found at section 6255(a), which allows agencies to withhold records when they can show “that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” The key thing here is that they have to make a showing of public interest in withholding the record.

This is hard enough to do in general, and the BID hasn’t even made an attempt, but our argument is that in the City of Los Angeles such a showing is even more difficult to pull off because (a) the BID is deeply involved in attempts to influence municipal legislation and (b) the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.01 establishes an extraordinarily high public interest in disclosure of information about attempts to influence:

The citizens of the City of Los Angeles have a right to know the identity of interests which attempt to influence decisions of City government, as well as the means employed by those interests.

Complete public disclosure of the full range of activities by and financing of lobbyists and those who employ their services is essential to the maintenance of citizen confidence in the integrity of local government.

The argument is essentially that the BID can’t even show that there’s any significant public interest in withholding the records they withheld, but given that the subject of these records concerns the means they employ to attempt to influence municipal decisions, they really especially can’t meet this extra-high local bar.

The other main argument is against some nonsense that the BID just made up in their reply to my petition. Many of the emails they refused to turn over are in the possession of their board members Linda Becker and Mark Chatoff. They wouldn’t even search for these because it’s Carol Humiston’s opinion that board members aren’t subject to the CPRA.

You can read the technical details below, but basically our argument is that the law that makes BIDs subject to the CPRA, which is Streets and Highways Code §36612, explicitly makes the owners’ associations subject. It makes no sense as a matter of law and as of a matter of common sense that a corporation could be subject to the CPRA while its board members were not subject. A corporation only does anything through the actions of the people who run it. And that’s the quick and dirty summary. As I keep saying, read on for the excerpts!
Continue reading Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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That Time In 2018 When Wallis Locke Told Ellen Riotto How The South Park BID Could Just Ignore The Brown Act By Putting Some Magic Words On The Agenda — Cause The Foothill Municipal Water District Did It — So Anyone Could Do It — Even The South Park BID — But Then Ellen Riotto — Being Uncharacteristically Prudent — Asked Carol Humiston If It Was OK — And Carol Humiston Was All Like No Freaking Way That Is Crazy! — Except She Said It Nicer Cause After All They Are Paying Her A Lot Of Damn Money!

It’s basically very easy for public government agencies such as business improvement districts to comply with the Brown Act. All they have to do is not be sneaky and stop trying to hide what they’re doing from the public. But of course, that concept is actually impossible for BIDdies to understand, so they’re perennially surprised by what the law requires of them. The general zillionaire rule of statutory interpretation, which is to assume that laws do in fact say whatever rich white people imagine that they ought to say, is accurate 99.99% of the time, but it fails with the Brown Act for some reason.1

Which is why about this time last year we were spending a lot of blog time educating Ellen Riotto, executive directrix of the South Park BID, about the duties required of her organization by the Brown Act. She’d schedule a closed session but wouldn’t explain what the Board was going to talk about during it and I’d be like no, can’t do that, and she’d be like OK thank you for pointing that out! And then she’d be all like board members are going to phone into the meeting from random unannounced locations around the globe and I’d be like no, can’t do that, and she’d be like OK thank you for pointing that out!

And now, thanks to some emails kindly supplied to me in response to a request for public records by the South Park BIDdies, I can reveal for the first time that there was at least one other instance in early 2018 when Ellen Riotto completely misunderstood the Brown Act and was on the verge of implementing yet another completely illegal policy. Wallis Locke sent an email to Ellen Riotto and was all like I know a guy named Dan and he’s involved with the Foothill Municipal Water District and they have some kind of voodoo on their agendas that basically lets them talk about whatever they want to without having to announce it publicly in advance!

And Ellen Riotto was all like I wanna get me some of that! The voodoo, by the way, has to do with the fact that the Brown Act at §54954.2(b) allows public government agencies like BIDs to make last minute additions to their agendas if there is an actual emergency. However, in this case, maybe because my constant scrutiny made her a little more circumspect, she decided to ask the BID’s attorney Ms. Carol Humiston if her theory was a good one.

And Ms. Humiston, despite the fact that she’s famous for counseling her clients to violate the law at every opportunity in contravention of the enforceable expectations of both God and the California State Bar, was all like WHOA! Emergencies mean like earthquakes, fires, and so on! Not some booshwah that you just made up! You can’t freaking do that and you would be crazy even to try so step back from the ledge! And Ellen Riotto was like darn it! But step back from the ledge she did, leaving nothing but this email conversation, a transcription of which you can find after the break!
Continue reading That Time In 2018 When Wallis Locke Told Ellen Riotto How The South Park BID Could Just Ignore The Brown Act By Putting Some Magic Words On The Agenda — Cause The Foothill Municipal Water District Did It — So Anyone Could Do It — Even The South Park BID — But Then Ellen Riotto — Being Uncharacteristically Prudent — Asked Carol Humiston If It Was OK — And Carol Humiston Was All Like No Freaking Way That Is Crazy! — Except She Said It Nicer Cause After All They Are Paying Her A Lot Of Damn Money!

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Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, advises a bunch of L.A. business improvement districts on how to thwart my CPRA requests. She even held a seminar about me last summer for random BIDs that weren’t even her client to teach them her angry CPRA-thwarting methods. And, you know, I don’t like her methods, and I don’t like her clients, and I don’t like her. But I do like the fact that all people, even Satan-worshipping BIDdies who see violence against homeless people as a sacrament and guns as a masturbation aid, have a right to advice from counsel on how to further their goals within the bounds imposed by the law.

That last clause is essential, though. We do not want lawyers running around telling people that they ought to break the law and then using their special lawyerly powers to show them how to break it more effectively. In return for the powers granted to lawyers by society, they’re required to follow some minimal set of rules. And one of those rules is Rule 1.2.1, which states unequivocally that:

A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent, or a violation of any law, rule, or ruling of a tribunal.

But some emails, ironically obtained from the South Park BID in response to a CPRA request, prove that that’s precisely what Carol Humiston has done. She explicitly counseled the South Park BIDdies to engage in conduct that she knew was a violation of the CPRA. And that, friends, is why, just yesterday afternoon, I filed this complaint against her with the California State Bar. You can read the painful details after the break, both of her advice and the sections of the CPRA she advised the South Park BID to violate, including copies of the actual emails in which she gave the advice.
Continue reading Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

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