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Council Wants Inattention Ruling Erased From Books

January 20, 2005|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council, which was busted by a state appeals court for not listening during a public hearing, now wants to ensure the stinging rebuke can't be cited as legal precedent.

In closed session Wednesday, the council voted 10 to 0 to have the city attorney petition the state Supreme Court to remove the court ruling from legal books. Five members were absent.

"We're saying that the facts are unique to this case," said Katie Buckland, a spokeswoman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo. "We don't think it's a good precedent for any time a government body is meeting."

She said the city was concerned that, strictly applied, the ruling could mean that the council must always sit "still and silent" during any proceeding, not just a quasi-judicial hearing.

The dispute stems from a June 2003 zoning hearing, when Roger Jon Diamond, an attorney for the Blue Zebra club in Lincoln Heights, said council members ignored him.

Diamond filed suit and entered a video of council members conversing, walking around and talking on a cellphone as evidence. In December, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Diamond was owed another hearing because council members violated his right to due process by not listening to him.

Diamond said Wednesday that he was perturbed by the attempt to wipe the court's opinion off the legal books.

"Apparently, the opinion is embarrassing to the City Council," Diamond said. "Why not simply obey it? They were very defiant when the decision came down. They never said, 'Golly, gee whiz, we should have paid attention.' "

Several members of the City Council declined to comment, saying they didn't want to discuss closed proceedings.

Lynn Holton, a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court, said it's "quite common" for the court to receive requests to "depublish" rulings from the Court of Appeal, and that it has stricken about 24 rulings in each of the last several years.

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