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COC To Settle Voting Rights Act Suit, Palmdale To Keep Fighting

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College of the Canyons officials and plaintiffs in a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit reached confidential settlement terms early Tuesday morning, according to an official.


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Palmdale officials recently decided to attempt to take their CVRA lawsuit fight to the state’s Supreme Court, sfter a recent appellate court loss and an award for more than $3.5 million for the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The settlement by COC officials avoided a trial by the narrowest of margins, after an 11th hour meeting by the board authorized legal counsel to seek a settlement the day before trial was to begin last week. 

Related article: COC, Plaintiffs To Host Settlement Talks In Voting Rights Lawsuit

Those talks continued into this week with a settlement reportedly filed in court today. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to a court official who confirmed a settlement was filed Tuesday morning.

“(Santa Clarita Community College District officials) settled the case, and they’ve settled it confidentially at this point,” according to a court official at Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

COC officials and an attorney for the plaintiffs did not make a comment in response to news of the settlement Tuesday.

If a settlement was made at the direction of the college’s governing board, it would have to be approved by the governing board.

In May, Judge Rolf Treu officially denied the Santa Clarita Community College District’s request for a summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit Monday morning.

There were several evidentiary rulings affirmed that would have helped the plaintiffs if the case went to trial.

Related article: COC, Plaintiffs Close To Terms On Voting Rights Act Lawsuit

The SCCCD governing board oversees the College of the Canyons's two SCV campuses, and its district boundary encompasses the Santa Clarita Valley and a very small portion of the San Fernando Valley.

The college’s next scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled to take place at the school’s Valencia campus at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Santa Clarita Community College District was the last of three Santa Clarita Valley governing boards hit with a CVRA lawsuit to settle the case.
Both the city of Santa Clarita and the Sulphur Springs School District were also hit with lawsuits back in June 2013, alleging similar violations.

No CVRA lawsuit has been successfully defended, a fact noted in public statements by both agencies that have already announced settlement agreements.

Related article: Judge Orders Palmdale To Pay $3.5M For Voting Rights Act Violation

The city of Palmdale was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $3,563,259 for the fees and costs related to a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit for which the city recently lost an appeal.

Palmdale officials issued a statement Tuesday in response to their decision to seek relief from the state’s Supreme Court.

“As we have said all along, the city of Palmdale is firmly committed to seeing that the voice of Palmdale residents is clearly heard in the election process and not subjected to interference by outside special interests,” said City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy.

“Under the California Constitution, a charter city has plenary authority over the manner and method of selecting its representatives,” he said. “Palmdale voters spoke in 2001 by rejecting district-based voting and again in 2009 when enacting the City Charter and maintaining at-large elections. We believe the California Supreme Court will agree that the city’s current at-large election system is appropriate.”


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COC To Settle Voting Rights Act Suit, Palmdale To Keep FightingKHTS AM 1220 - Santa Clarita News - Santa Clarita Radio


Article: COC To Settle Voting Rights Act Suit, Palmdale To Keep Fighting
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Perry Smith