The California Supreme Court granted review of the Appellate court decision in the case “County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court (ACLU Southern California, Real Party in Interest) S226645, a case that the City of Dixon cited in their refusal to provide the cost of attorney fees paid to the city attorney and the law firm representing the City’s Elections Official in the lawsuits filed by the city to prevent the citizens from voting on the initiative to repeal sewer rates.
Ourania Riddle, a member of the Dixon Chapter and immediate past president of the Solano County Taxpayers, requested this information “twice” under the Public Records Act (PRA).
The city’s replies were:
- “ The city will not produce the attorney fees for Churchwell White or Cota & Cole as they are documents protected by the attorney-client privilege. California courts have specifically found that legal invoices are confidential communications between attorney and client; and therefore are exempt from disclosure under the CPRA”, and cited the above referenced case.
Undaunted Riddle did some research and when Peter Eliasberg, legal director at the ACLU of Southern California, asked her to write an “amicus” letter to the CA Supreme Court requesting review of the appellate April 2015 decision, she gladly complied.
Her letter stated, “The Court of Appeal’s decision has already caused serious undesirable consequences to the people in the City of Dixon. The Court’s decision has a negative effect on our right to know. The City of Dixon has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Solano County Taxpayers Association and a groundswell of voters to exercise our constitutional right of initiative to reverse a substantial increase in sewer rates recently imposed by the City of Dixon. Now, relying on the Court of Appeal decision, the city has denied us the invoices that would tell us how much our city is spending to sue us. They are spending OUR MONEY and they are denying us, THE TAXPAYERS who foot this bill, to see the invoices explaining how much of our money are wasted on this frivolous lawsuit. WE, the Taxpayers and citizens of the City of Dixon, respectfully urge this Court to grant review.“
Apparently, this letter had a significant impact. The court took notice because they seldom receive amicus letters from citizens.
“Your friends in city government cannot cite the case any more as a reason to deny your PRA request. It was all you, Ourania, all you!” Eliasberg wrote to Riddle when he e-mailed her to tell her that the court granted review. “ No reason you cannot ask again and tell them that their previously stated reason not to turn the stuff over — the ACLU/Preven case — is no longer law,” Eliasberg wrote.