Santa Monica Files Answering Brief Regarding Remedies in CVRA Trial

December 3, 2018

Santa Monica Files Answering Brief Regarding Remedies in CVRA Trial

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – On November 30, 2018, the City of Santa Monica filed its answering brief regarding remedies in Pico Neighborhood Association, et al. v. City of Santa Monica

“The City believes that the evidence presented at trial shows that the City’s election system is fair, inclusive and fully complies with California law,” City Attorney Lane Dilg said.  “If, however, an ultimate determination is made that the City’s longstanding at-large system is unlawful, the Court should not just adopt the district map presented by plaintiffs at trial without public input, but instead should order the City to undertake a democratic process -- open to the public -- to determine, subject to judicial review, where district lines should be drawn.” 

On November 8, 2018, the Court issued a tentative ruling for the plaintiffs in the litigation and ordering the parties to submit briefing on remedies. 

In a brief filed on November 19, 2018, plaintiffs proposed that the Court order the City to conduct a special election on April 16, 2019, based on a seven-district plan designed by the plaintiffs’ expert and presented by the plaintiffs at trial.  The City opposes this request and believes that any districting plan should be designed through an inclusive, democratic process, subject to judicial review and approval.

In its brief, the City also contends that no remedy is justified because no evidence demonstrates a cognizable pattern of racially polarized voting or the dilution of Latino votes, necessary predicates to a California Voting Rights Act violation.  To the contrary, Latino/a representation on the Santa Monica City Council exceeds the Latino/a citizen voting age population of the City, and the evidence presented at trial shows that Latino-preferred candidates have consistently won seats on the Santa Monica City Council and other City governing boards. 

The City also contends that the plaintiffs have failed to prove a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the City’s current electoral system increased minority voting strength when adopted by the voters in 1946, and the plaintiffs have failed to show any plausible basis for inferring discriminatory intent from the voters’ decision to maintain that system in 1975 or the Council’s decision to do so in 1992. 

The City has requested that the Court issue a statement of decision explaining the legal and factual basis for its ruling.  Plaintiffs have proposed that they be designated to prepare this statement of decision

The Court will hold a hearing on remedies on December 7, 2018. 

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