According to “Leela, Leela,” that ancient Hindu folk song about enlightenment, “Those who say don’t know and those who know don’t say.”
On Wednesday, July 6, the Susanville City Council met with its legal counsel in closed session to discuss, “existing litigation related to the announced closure of the California Correctional Center and in light of the trailer bill that mandates closure of the CCC by June 26, 2023.”
And here’s the information the council reported to the public regarding that closed session meeting — “The Susanville City Council directed staff to continue to explore legal mechanisms to keep the facility open and operational, while simultaneously working to open a dialog with state representatives regarding the future of the facility. The city remains extremely concerned for the employees at CCC who are struggling through the uncertainty of this situation and also for the economic impact the proposed closure will have on our community.”
Despite that announcement, many in the community continue to wonder how the newly approved state budget and its trailer bill that repealed sections of the California Penal Code used by the city in its lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation affect that ongoing legal action; how certain provisions of the new legislation, such as the prohibition of a governmental agency (such as the city of Susanville) to seek redress of CDCR’s prison closure decisions can possibly be legal or even constitutional.
The public will have to continue to wait for someone to answer those questions, but here are some new developments that have been unreported until now.
Both sides ask for more time
Attorneys from the city of Susanville and the state filed a joint stipulation Friday, July 1, seeking more time to respond to a proposed order on the state’s demurrer issued June 24 by visiting Lassen County Superior Court Judge Robert F. Moody.
On June 28, Moody granted the extension and ordered both sides have an additional 15 days — until Wednesday, July 20 — to respond.
A demurrer is, “a defense asserting that even if all the factual allegations in a complaint are true, they are insufficient to establish a valid cause of action,” according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.
The state’s new budget and the trailer bill were signed into law Thursday, June 30 — six days after Moody’s proposed order. No one has reported how that new legislation might affect the current lawsuit.
Moody’s proposed order
According to Moody’s proposed order, the state’s demurrer is sustained without leave to amend regarding the notice requirements of Penal Code section 5003.7 due to lack of standing; California Governor Gavin Newsom is dismissed as party to the action because “the court could not find any factual information that would allow the governor to be a party in this action;” the court found no claim for declaratory relief in the city’s filings; the demurrer claim under Penal Code section 20678 is sustained without leave to amend on the grounds “the statute does not apply to (the) state prison closure processs required under Penal Code section 5003.7, which process is at-issue in the Petition of Writ of Mandate.
The court denied the state’s demurrer to the writ of mandate “because the city plausibly alleges … the defendant failed to consider these subdivisions (PC section 5003.7) when it finally selected CCC for closure in April 2021; the court denied the state’s request for judicial notice of its preparation of an environmental impact report; and the court also ruled the state “never considered CEQA requirements when it selected CCC for closure.”
While both sides are required to submit responses by July 20, no future court date, if one is required, has yet been announced.