December 27, 2010

Who will rule first in the state-buildings-sale case?

As the clock ticks towards the end of Governor Schwarzenegger’s term — and thus, possibly, the end of the time to complete the sale to private investors of certain state buildings, including the Supreme Court’s (and First and Second District Courts of Appeal’s) homes in San Francisco and Los Angeles — legal proceedings regarding the sale are pending in both the Court of Appeal (Sixth District) and the Supreme Court (comprised of seven temporary justices).

The litigation is in both courts at the same time because, when the Sixth District stayed the sale and refused the Governor’s request to lift the stay, the Governor asked the Supreme Court to force the Sixth District to lift the stay. The Governor asked the Supreme Court to rule by last Thursday, but there’s been no ruling yet. Meanwhile, briefing in the Court of Appeal was completed on Thursday when the sale opponents filed their reply to the Governor’s opposition.

So, a ruling could come at any time from either or both courts. If the Court of Appeal summarily denies the sale opponents’ writ petition or if the Supreme Court grants the Governor’s writ petition, the sale could go through. Is each court waiting to see what the other will do? If there is a summary denial from the Court of Appeal, the Governor’s Supreme Court writ petition would be moot (although the sale opponents would then likely petition the Supreme Court for review of the summary denial). If the Supreme Court orders the Court of Appeal to lift its stay and the sale goes through, the sale opponents’ Court of Appeal writ petition would likely be moot.

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