Visiting Lassen County Superior Court Judge Robert F. Moody yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 7, dissolved the preliminary injunction issued last year by Lassen County Superior Court Judge Mark Nareau and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is “authorized to immediately resume its efforts to close the California Correctional Center in Susanville.”
Despite that ruling, the judge offered his opinion about the separation of powers and due process issues brought forward as the case made its way through the court, and he asked questions every one of us should probably contemplate as the effects of this ruling surge across Susanville and Lassen County, our state and our nation. As Americans, we all should believe in the rule of law; however, the judge asks us to consider simple questions — did the rule of law provide justice in this case, and was he, as a judge, able to deliver it?
“Finally, a few questions seem in order, even if they can’t be adequately answered,” Moody wrote in his ruling. “Has this process been fair to the city? This court’s goal as stated at the beginning of these proceedings has been to ensure the public could be assured no matter who won or lost the process had been fair for both sides. How fair is a process where one side has a legislature in the wings and the other doesn’t? When the CDCR claims that it has the same constitutional rights as any other citizen to petition the legislature, what credence should be given to that claim if it effectively has the keys to the back doors and the back rooms of the Capitol and nobody else does? How fair are even lawful statutes that are submitted and passed in three days? These matters have an unpleasant odor about them, to be sure. But any litigators and any courts who enter into the thicket of separation of powers and due process issues surrounding statutes with retroactive effects upon pending litigation must confront existing law as best it can be discerned. And the fact is that existing law permits the passage of such statutes in virtually every case that has been decided. And ultimately, the question of the public’s satisfaction or lack of it as to these matters is electoral, not judicial.”