Press release: For Immediate Use !! ******* Press release: For Immediate Use!!
Appellate Court Decides Two Cases in Favor of
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Centerand Protect Our Water
MERCED, CA (June 04, 2013) – The San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water (POW) prevailed against Merced County on two cases of violation of the state Brown Act in the state 5th District Court of Appeal last week. The court upheld decisions in favor of the public groups reached by Merced Superior Court back in 2011. The appellate court’s published decision can be used as precedent by other public groups to enforce the legal mandate for open meetings in California.
“At the bottom of most abuses of power by local legislatvie bodies is a Brown Act violation – an effort to conceal what is really being decided,” said Lydia Miller, president of the San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter. “Thanks to aggressions against legal public process by Merced County, we now have a published appellate court decision that resoundingly supports the Brown Act -- this great law for the people of California to use to defend itself against overreaching government and government by special interests,” she said.
The 3-judge panel reaffirmed both the letter and the spirit of the Brown Act, named in honor of its author, former state Assembly Speaker, Ralph Brown, D-Modesto. The decision was at times sharply critical of MercedCounty’s mishandling of the violation and legal procedure. Due to the County’s obstinate refusal to admit its errors, the case dragged through the courts for three and a half years .
Yet, as the judges noted, quoting the Preamble to the Brown Act, state Government Code Section 54950-54963): In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
In a separate unpublished decision, the appellate court panel reversed a third decision of the trial court regarding the Brown Act. The panel, however, disagreed with the County’s claim that the suit was “frivolous and capricious”.
The case numbers in 5th District Court of Appeal are: FO64930 and FO64931.
For opinions, go to the following web site:http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions-slip.htm
For further information contact:
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center
Protect Our Water
(209) 723-9283, ph.
Law Office of Donald B. Mooney
129 C Street, Suite 2
Davis, CA 95616
Marsha A. Burch, Esq.
131 South Auburn Street
Grass Valley, California 95945