It’s been more than four years since the City of Santa Monica was named as a defendant in a voting rights lawsuit, but attorneys for the city and Pico Neighborhood Association are due back in court at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, for oral arguments.
The hearing stems from a complaint filed in the California Superior Court in April 2016, alleging that the at-large election system for City Council dilutes LatinX voting power in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and other statutes.
Trial for the CVRA lawsuit began on Aug. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles Superior Court and the City of Santa Monica lost. The city was ordered to conduct a district-based election on July 2, 2019. It was also ordered that no City Council members elected at-large could continue to hold their seats past August 15, 2019. However an appeal was filed by city attorneys temporarily preserving the status quo.
The two sides are set to make oral arguments to the court of appeal Tuesday.
Either party can seek review by the California Supreme Court if they disagree with the court’s decision.
Both sides are hopeful the judge will issue a ruling by early July and in May 2019, the court gave the city of Santa Monica calendar preference to expedite briefing and argument in order to facilitate a November 2020 Council election.
“The calendar preference called for the appellate decision by July 10, 2020,” Farrell said.
She said members of the public who wish to access Tuesday’s arguments via live-streaming on the Court’s website can do so by visiting: courts.ca.gov/2dca.htm. The public will be able to see and/or hear the court proceeding in the same manner as the participants and will have a similar experience to sitting in the courtroom gallery.
Standard court rules, including the general prohibition against photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings (including those held by telephone or videoconference) are still in effect.