Wednesday, May 3, 2017

• Field Trip to the Court of Appeals

What says fun more than an early morning trip to downtown Riverside, to go hear an appeals case involving the city of Wildomar? Other than a sharp stick in the eye that is? 

Way Too Many Words Alert. 
If you hate a lot of words, then just ignore this blog and just look at the pictures instead. After a quick test I found that there are about 1550 words (321 difficult words), in 110 sentences, with estimated reading time of 8 minutes. My apologies in advance.
A very stately looking building nestled in the shadow of the 91 freeway.

This courthouse was like no other that I've been in. No hustle and bustle in the hallways, no sleazy ambulance chasers looking for new customers, no baby mommas hoping their baby daddies were going to be let off with a warning this time while dragging three preschoolers around.

Nothing that you'd usually see in a courthouse.

There were [surprisingly] courteous officers there to send you through the metal detector, and have you empty your pockets, part of the safety checks we've all become inured to.

The unexpected twist was that I had to surrender my phone before entering. That blew my thoughts of live streaming the proceedings on FaceBook. 

Actually, I did want to use the recording app as a note taker, but it wasn't in the cards today. Too bad too, there were some really insane thoughts coming from the plaintiff's counsel, and now I'll be reduced to paraphrasing at best (I'm just not a natural stenographer). 

Once inside I took a seat in the back row and took it all in. At the far end of the room was the bench that stood about five feet high, with three chairs behind it, along with the nation's and the state's flags. 

The seats were like the pews in a church, made of mahogany with red velvety cushions, and plush green carpeting. 

A few minutes before it started, the bailiff gave a brief primer on how to act in the courtroom. It was mostly for those that would be arguing in front of the judges, but also for the rest of us that were just observing.

A lot of you can't do this, and you can't do that... topped off with no sleeping either. Not long into the first case did I understand why he admonished us about not sleeping. 

The particulars of that case were boring and, without reading materials (another no-no... no reading of non court related materials) or other distractions, the temptation to nod off a bit would really become powerful if you were going to be there for very long.

The lead judge of the three, Manuel Ramirez, looked to be in his late 60s. The one on his right was about the same age, and slouched in his chair. The one on his left didn't even look to be forty yet. 
(Would it be sexist and racist to point out that judge number three was an attractive black woman? If so, strike that last comment from the record).

Sat through a child support appeal, and a case where a guy was fighting with his auto insurance company before I heard them call for the one involving Wildomar.

I had made the trip to see how the appeal of Case number E063986 Martha Bridges et al. v City of Wildomar was to go down.

The gist of the case is as absurd as can be imagined. Even after a twelver of Natty Light you'd be hard pressed to come up with such unworthy balderdash with your drunk buddies, much less in court for the upteenth time. 

The estimate is that Wildomar has sent attorneys to represent them no less than ten times on this case alone. 

The antagonist keeps losing on this, but that doesn't mean you can keep an obstinate person down. 

Remember the classic scene from Coolhand Luke where George Kennedy's character, Dragline, told him to just stay down... but he kept getting back up, though he had absolutely nothing?
Stay down, you're beat!

The thing that you might not have considered while watching that clip, is that it takes energy and time away from what Dragline should be attending to. Swatting flies takes energy too.

Back to the case

The crux of the argument, so the complaint sounded, is that the general plan of Riverside County can't be applied to the city of Wildomar.

Ready for some brain melting that can only come from the double talk of a lawyer?

It was argued that the city does not have a general plan because the general plan that was adopted back in 2008 (written in 2002) can only apply to the unincorporated areas of the county.

Let's check the math. 

On June 30th, 2008, the general plan that the county of Riverside laid out for the community of Wildomar was fine while the town was unincorporated. However, on July 1st, 2008, it was no longer applicable because the city was no longer in the unincorporated parts of the county after becoming a city. (I think I'm going to need a Tylenol)

That's some grade A convoluted logic right there. Now let's see if we can untangle that clump of sticky mental spaghetti.

What was good for the town of Wildomar while an unincorporated part of the county, was no longer appropriate for Wildomar after becoming a city, even though the first city council voted to adopt the general plan on day one... did I get that right? 

That's not even taking into account such factors as the economy of the world falling apart the same week as incorporation, and that projected city revenues fell well short of their original projections as a direct result. Not making excuses, just setting the record straight. 

Hell, I was against cityhood when it was happening because I knew we didn't have enough of a tax base to make a proper go of it. 

Thing is, just because my point of view didn't prevail, didn't mean I'd continually seek to make my fellow Wildmartinis live's less safe by plaguing our young city with garbage that would cost untold thousands of dollars as it was dealt with it.

Couple that with how hard SoCal was hit, with the housing market crashing down, and a less embittered member of the community might have understood that the massive costs of creating a general plan from scratch, which would have run about $2,000,000, was something that was going to have to wait for another day. 

But, no. 

Where 90 days are normally given for such challenges, this charge came FIVE YEARS after the fact... want to hear their hinky reasoning on why the delay was something to be allowed?

What I heard is that since the county's general plan says it's for unincorporated areas of the county, and Wildomar is no longer unincorporated, by definition it cannot be applied to the city of Wildomar.

If your brain hasn't melted yet, congratulations... I'm barely hanging on by a thread myself. 

Let's round this out with what I can make from my notes and then call it a day.

I heard, "I don't believe there is a time limit" when asked about the five year delay.

One of the judges asked, "So they didn't adopt the county's plan?"
"They think they did," was the reply.

Remember, this was a real life appellate court, not SNL, and still the counsel for the plaintiff delivered those lines in a deadpan manner. 

Wildomar was represented by Amy Hoyt. She was asked, "Is there a general plan?"

She responded with cool assuredness as she responded, "Of course there is a general plan."

Anyone can view the general plan. She then made a comparison to the Declaration of Independence and that the city's general plan shouldn't have to be displayed behind glass.

When it was time for the plaintiff's last appearance at the lectern, I made two more notes. 

The first was in reference to the general plan being displayed behind glass, and it sure sounded like he said that should be the case. Perhaps that was sarcasm or hyperbole that got past me, but I can't see how that was suppose to bolster his street cred.

The other was basically just a reiteration of their only point, "We believe they don't have a general plan."

Once outside I met up with Wildomar attorney Amy Hoyt and asked her how she thought it went, "I think it went well, we have a tentative [judgement] in our favor. Fingers crossed, I think we should win."

I asked when to expect an answer from the court and was told, "Hopefully soon. If they adopt the tentative, it's already written."

Just like good ol' Cool Hand Luke wouldn't listen to Dragline, we is jus' too smart to think that old hound dog is ever gonna stop barking up the wrong tree, and actually stay down. Even-money has her filing more papers, on god knows what, before Labor Day.
•          •          •

Grammar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason.

– Richard Chenevix Trench 1807-1886

Wildomar Rap is the ingredients of pizza, even as pizza is devoured by Wildomar Rap.


  1. I read all that for what, because you spent the day in court hearing oral arguments. You want dry try a webcast of the California Supreme Court when they heard arguments about emails being public record.

    1. "because you spent the day in court"
      I think it's fair to add that I had a late morning coffee before hitting the keyboard too. Seems to give me logorrhea at times.

  2. Thank you for keeping us updated on the WWWOTW!


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