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Appeals Court Rules City Council Can Remain Pending Voting Rights Appeal

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

March 27, 2019 -- The California Court of Appeal on Wednesday issued a ruling that allows the current City Council members to continue serving while the City's appeal in a voting rights lawsuit is heard.

As a result of the ruling, the City is also not required to hold a special election for all seven Council seats on July 2.

The ruling came after the City asked the court on March 8 to stay or clarify Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos that prohibits Council members not elected under a district system from serving after August 15 ("Judge Palazuelos Denies City's Request for A Stay in Voting Rights Order," March 6, 2019).

Palazuelos' order to hold a special district election was automatically stayed by the City's appeal.

In seeking the stay, lead defense attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. argued that Palazuelos was coercing the City into holding a district election under a ruling the City believes will be overturned on appeal.

Without a stay, Boutrous wrote, "the City would effectively be ruderless and unequipped to govern itself" as of August 15.

In its ruling Wednesday, the panel of three judges said Palazuelos' final ruling "operates as an automatic stay pending the disposition of this appeal."

In a statement Wednesday, Boutrous said that “the City’s electoral system is fair and inclusive and constitutional and the Court’s decision today keeps that system in place while the City’s appeal proceeds.”

The appeal is expected to take between eight months a a year to be decided.

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