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Decision in Santa Monica Voting Rights Lawsuit Could be Revealed Today
By Jorge Casuso
November 13, 2018 -- Attorneys in the Voting Rights lawsuit against the City are awaiting the arrival today of the judge's decision in a case that could upend local politics.
Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos mailed her preliminary decision to the attorneys in the case on Friday at around 1:30 p.m., according to court records.
City officials were on standby Saturday for the eagerly awaited verdict, which failed to arrive at City Hall or at the offices of plaintiffs attorney Kevin Shenkman in Malibu.
Efforts by one community activist to obtain a copy at the Downtown courthouse Friday afternoon failed, leaving political observers to speculate over the weekend about the judge's decision.
The suspense was extended through Monday, a federal holiday that saw no mail delivered.
The arrival of the verdict to the plaintiffs could be complicated by the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, where Shenkman's office is located.
Judge Palazuelos' decision is likely to arrive at City Hall today.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit -- Latino activist Maria Loya and the Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA) -- argued that Santa Monica's current at-large election system discriminates against minorities.
The plaintiffs sought to impose district elections, where seven areas would elect their our representatives.
The City argued that Latinos in Santa Monica are not only proportionally represented on the City Council, they are over-represented, making changing the City's at-large elections a case of fixing a system that "ain't broken."
The trail ended in September 11 after six weeks of testimony from both sides (Santa Monica Voting Rights Trial Ends," September 11, 2018).
The plaintiffs were required to submit a closing brief within two weeks, and the defense was given 20 days to file a response.
There was speculation a decision could be rendered before the November 6 election, but that did not occur.
The judge's decision will likely be appealed by the losing side.
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