Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster and plaintiffs’ attorney.
[KHTS] – A judge in the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit against Palmdale ordered city officials Friday to come up with remedies for their illegal elections due next month.
Judge Mark V. Mooney ruled July 25 that Palmdale was in violation of the CVRA with its at-large elections, showing racially polarized voting was denying minorities access to the electoral system.
In order to address the violation, city officials must propose changes to their electoral process, the judge ruled.
A source close to the proceedings said the remedies proposed should include moving the city’s electoral system to even-numbered years. The source was not authorized to comment on the record.
Palmdale city officials have been told to address the ruling of a violation at a hearing Oct. 6.
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30 for the judge to consider the injunction sought by Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman and Hughes and Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, the attorneys on record for Juaregui, which could prevent Palmdale from having its election in November. The motion was filed the first week of August.
The case is of particular interest to Santa Clarita Valley officials as well, because three local governing boards have also been sued by the same attorneys.
Malibu lawyer Kevin Shenkman, attorney for plaintiffs.
Palmdale is slated to have an election in November; however, the attorneys for the plaintiff Juan Jauregui filed an injunction seeking to stop that election.
“After an eight-day trial in May and a careful analysis of the evidence and the law, the court found that the city of Palmdale is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act,” Shenkman said, “and that the California Voting Rights Act is constitutional in its application to the city of Palmdale.”
The number listed for Palmdale city Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy was not answered Friday, and the city’s office is closed every Friday, according to a recorded message.
Ditzhazy’s previous statement claims the suits are an attempt to make money off of local governing boards, and that the city plans to fight the suit as much as possible, a sentiment shared by Santa Clarita Valley officials from the Sulphur Springs School District and the William S. Hart Union High School District. The Hart district’s electoral system has not been accused of a CVRA violation, however, district board President Joe Messina said he expects that will happen due to the nature of the suits.
“Lawyers Shenkman and Parris are using a poorly drafted statute as a pretext for a huge attorney’s fee windfall at the expense of the taxpayers,” Ditzhazy said in a previous statement. “This lawsuit has never been about white, black or brown – only green.”
The city of Santa Clarita, the Sulphur Springs School District and the Santa Clarita Community College District have all been served with lawsuits alleging their political systems are in violation of the California Voting Rights Act.