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Mission Viejo

August 23, 2000|Sean Kirwan, (949) 574-4202

The City Council has voted to appeal a recent court decision that found three council members guilty of violating California's open meeting laws.

The council voted 4 to 0 in closed session Monday to file a notice of appeal. The decision came after a procession of residents spoke critically of Mayor Sherri M. Butterfield and council members Susan Withrow and William S. Craycraft for holding closed sessions, as well as a city press release that attacked the judge's decision and the residents who filed the lawsuit.

The council also voted in closed session to hire an outside legal expert to evaluate the merits of the city's appeal and help it determine if it is worth pursuing.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Eileen C. Moore ruled this month that Butterfield, Withrow and Craycraft violated the Ralph M. Brown Act during a closed-session meeting in April 1999.

In that session, the three criticized two proposals being made by colleague John Paul Ledesma, although they were not listed on the meeting's agenda.

The suit was filed by three city residents. In her ruling, the judge ordered the council members to pay the plaintiffs' legal costs and to tape all closed council sessions for two years.

Ledesma abstained from both votes Monday.

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