I just learned that on June 18th 2010 CSFA and PEER filed a Motion for a New Trial in San Francisco Superior Court (asking the judge to set a date for a new trial) even though the Appellate Court had already issued an order dismissing CSFA and PEER’s First Amended Writ of Mandate, the Writ of Mandate that the “new trial” is supposed to resolve. Does that make sense? CSFA and PEER are asking the judge to set a new trial date on an action that has been dismissed (that no longer exists). Rather than going directly to the Appellate Court and asking for Reconsideration of the Order of Dismissal, CSFA and PEER are asking Judge Roesch to overrule the Appellate Court’s Order of Dismissal, by assigning a new trial date for that very same action, i.e., the action that has been dismissed. Judge Roesch has already ordered a hearing on CSFA and PEER’s Motion for New Trial for July 15th where he will either order a new trial date or not. (Are they forum shopping?) But it is not as simple as that. The plot sickens.
CSFA and PEER’s brief in support of their motion for new trial includes as an exhibit a copy of the State’s Appeal. It appears that the State only appealed the second cause of action requiring Carnegie to cease any new or changed pollution discharges pending submission of the Waste Discharge Repot, which the lower court judge interpreted as justification to shut down Carnegie. The State, rather than appealing the duty to prepare a Waste Discharge Report, provided one to the Californian Regional Water Quality Control Board. CSFA and PEER contend that the Regional Board responded to the State’s submission of the Waste Discharge Report and said that it was incomplete. CSFA and PEER also claim the Regional Board confirmed ongoing discharges into the creek. Although CSFA and PEER only seem to be asking the court to order a new trial on the fourth cause of action (monitoring soils wildlife, etc.), with this judge anything is possible.
In their Appeal the State (our side) failed to bring up the issue of the failure of CSFA and PEER to exhaust administrative remedies before the Regional or State Water Boards (procedures they must follow through with the water boards before asking the court for a writ of mandate). The Appellate Court used the failure to exhaust administrative remedies as the basis for its decision to dismiss the CSFA and PEER’s action, i.e., dismissal of their Writ of Mandate. This decision was based purely on an argument put forth as an Amicus Brief filed by the Water Board (who was not a party to the action). The Appellate Court did not have to pay attention to the Amicus Brief, but thank God they did.
CSFA and PEER are in the process of exhausting administrative remedies even now as we speak. Arguing failure to exhaustion administrative remedies is not foolproof since CSFA and PEER could go and exhaust administrative remedies and then go back to the court and ask for the same relief, which is what they are in the process of doing.
We don’t know what Judge Roesch will do; whether he will order a new trial on one, two, three or all four causes of action; or do as he should do, lacking jurisdiction in the matter, not order a new trial at all.
The State only appealed the second cause of action which the judge used as justification to close Carnegie until a waste discharge report is acted upon by the Water Board. CSFA and PEER contend that the Water Discharge Report submitted by the ORV State Recreation Parks Dept was deficient in several respects. At this point it can be argued that the State has not gotten approval of its waste discharge report and perhaps the lower court could include the second cause of action in the new trial, when CSFA and PEER have exhausted administrative remedies. Then Judge Roesch could issue an order closing Carnegie again (worst possible outcome imaginable).
That also leaves the other three causes of action:
- First Cause of action – Duty to submit waste discharge report (that CSFA and PEER contend has still not been properly submitted)
- Third Cause of Action complying with water quality objectives
- Fourth Cause of Action – Monitor soils wildlife, shut down noncompliant areas, etc.
Our Judge could order a new trial on one, two, three or all four causes of action if he wants to. We don’t know what he will do, but if we go by the sort of decisions he has made in the past, we do know that he will bend over backwards to benefit CSFA, PEER and their cronies.
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not a part of this lawsuit, and not an expert on this case. But this is what I can piece together after looking at the registry of actions in this case. Go here and enter the case number RG09474549. Good luck; the documents are voluminous.
Attorney General Jerry Browns’ name is on the Appeal we supposedly won. Anything could happen. This is not real life. It has nothing to do whether there is any water in the so called creek, any fish; or any sediment killing fish in the so called creek. This is about politics. I am not an optimist and I say watch out. Of course, it goes without saying, that you should get on your bike and ride Carnegie this weekend, but don’t run over any RockFish.