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Appeals Court Grants City's Request to Expedite Voting Rights Case
By Jorge Casuso
May 7, 2019 -- The California Court of Appeal on Monday granted the City of Santa Monica's request to expedite its ruling in the voting rights lawsuit filed by Latino plaintiffs againsst the City.
The decision comes one week after the City asked the Court to grant "calendar preference" for the case to assure a ruling is made by July 10, 2020, so a City Council election can be held in November 2020 as scheduled.
The three-judge panel issued a short decision granting the ruling.
"The motion for calendar preference filed by The City of Santa Monica is granted," the Court wrote.
"Briefing shall be in conformance with the Rules of Court. This court will consider any reasonable stipulated briefing schedule."
In its motion last week, the City wrote that it "would prefer to hold its next election -- whether at-large or district-based -- on the next regular election date," when the terms of four of the seven council members expire.
In their response to the court, the plaintiffs agreed with the request.
The City is appealing Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos ruling that Santa Monica's at large election system deliberately discriminates against Latino voters.
In her ruling, Palazuelos ordered a special district-based election on July 2 for all seven council seats using a map submitted by the plaintiffs.
She also prohibited candidates not elected through district-based elections from serving on the Council after August 15 ("Judge Orders Special District Elections for Council in Final Ruling," February 15, 2019).
The Appeals Court stayed Palazuelos' decision pending the City's appeal ("Appeals Court Rules City Council Can Remain Pending Voting Rights Appeal," March 27).
The decision came after the City Council unanimously voted on February 21 to appeal the lower court's ruling ("Santa Monica Council Votes to Appeal Voting Rights Ruling," February 21, 2019).
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