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City Granted Extension to Submit Voting Rights Brief

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By Jorge Casuso

December 29, 2020 -- The California Supreme Court on Monday granted the City's request for a 60-day extension to submit its responding brief in the voting rights lawsuit filed by Latino plaintiffs.

In their request, the City's attorneys cited the holiday break, the coronavirus emergency and the "unusually large record" in the case that presents a "complex and important issue."

"The trial lasted six weeks, and 16 witnesses testified," according to the petition filed on Saturday.

"The trial court admitted 2,600 pages of exhibits. The appellate record consists of some 27 volumes containing over 12,000 pages.

"The reporter’s transcript is over 5,000 pages long. And the parties filed hundreds of pages of briefs in the Court of Appeal," the petition said.

Gibson,Dunn & Crutcher LLP, the high powered firm representing the City, also cited its workload and deadlines and the need for the City to review the brief before it is submitted.

"Counsel who will be primarily responsible for writing the City’s answer brief have other deadlines and commitments during the normal briefing period that, as a practical matter, would preclude them from completing the brief in that period without impacting its quality," the brief said.

The brief submitted by the City and the five outside attorneys on the case also cites health protocols during the COVID-19 emergency that could delay their response.

"Work on research and drafting the answer brief is expected to take longer than usual given the work-from-home protocols that remain in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the attorneys wrote.

The plaintiffs' lead attorney, Kevin Shenkman, said that seeking an extension for the reasons cited is not unusual. Shenkman sought and was granted a 30-day extension by the Court to submit his opening brief ("Plaintiffs File Opening Brief in Voting Rights Case," December 22, 2020).

"Thirty days is nearly automatic," he said. "I don't know about the longer extension."

The extension could cost taxpayer's money, Shenkman said. "The more time they have, the more they can bill."

City officials have declined to provide the total fees paid to Gibson Dunn ("City Officials Won't Reveal Cost of Voting Rights Lawsuit Until Case is Closed," March 5, 2019).

The 130-year old firm, which according to its website has more than 1,300 attorneys in 20 offices worldwide, is routinely ranked among the U.S. law firms with the highest billing rates, according to the National Law Journal (NLJ).

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