December 27, 2010

Court of Appeal issues order to show cause in state-buildings-sale case

We were wondering whether it would be the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court that made the next move in the litigation seeking to block the sale to private investors of numerous state buildings, including buildings that house the Supreme Court and two Courts of Appeal. Now we know it’s the Court of Appeal.

This afternoon, the Court of Appeal issued an order “to show cause . . . why a peremptory writ should not issue” to require a preliminary injunction of the sale. The order pushes decision of the sale opponents’ writ petition, and any possible completion of the sale, to next year. Under the order, the real parties in interest (including Governor Schwarzenegger) can file opposition to the writ petition on or before January 3, the sale opponents can file a reply within 7 days after the opposition is filed, and oral argument is scheduled for January 26. The Court of Appeal’s stay of the sale “shall remain in effect until further order of this court.”

Compared to the timing for a normal writ petition, the Court of Appeal has set a very fast schedule, but it’s not nearly fast enough for the Governor, whose term of office ends in less than a week. Thus, apparently the only chance of having the sale completed before the end of the year — and, according to the Governor, if escrow doesn’t close before the end of the year, “the sale may well disappear forever” — is to have the Supreme Court this week grant the Governor’s writ petition and order the Court of Appeal to lift its stay order.

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