November 17, 2010

The Supreme Court as tenant?

The Legislature and Governor approved a plan to sell a number of state buildings to, and then lease them back from, private firms. Some of those buildings house state courts, including the Supreme Court’s home in San Francisco and where the court sits in Los Angeles. (Those buildings and courtrooms are also home to the First and Second District Courts of Appeal, respectively). As reported by Bloomberg Businessweek and others, two people removed earlier this year from a Los Angeles building authority yesterday filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court to block the sales. The lawsuit alleges that, at least as to the court buildings, the legislative and executive branches of government couldn’t act without the concurrence of the third branch, represented by the Judicial Council, the California courts’ policymaking body.

UPDATE: Today’s Los Angeles Times has an article saying that San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard has set a hearing for December 10 to decide whether to enjoin the closing of escrow on the sale of the 24 government buildings involved. Prominent trial lawyer Joseph W. Cotchett represents the plaintiffs, former members of the Los Angeles State Building Authority, who seek to stop the sale.

Perhaps most interesting, the article reports that “Atty. Gen. and Gov.-elect Jerry Brown declined to defend the sale of the government buildings on behalf of the Schwarzenegger administration, which pushed through the deal over the objections of state fiscal experts. Brown instead authorized Schwarzenegger to retain a private law firm.” The Governor is represented by Sacramento lawyer Andrew W. Stroud.

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