Court Refuses to Dismiss JW Lawsuit Challenging LAPD Special Order 7
JANUARY 25, 2013
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “The Los Angeles Police Department is once again putting the needs of illegal aliens ahead of the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles.”
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that California Superior Court Judge Terry Green has refused to dismiss a taxpayer lawsuit filed May 8, 2012, against the Los Angeles Police Department and Police Chief Charlie Beck over Special Order 7, a policy that regulates the impounding of vehicles. Under Special Order 7, police officers would no longer immediately impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers for 30 days as long as they meet certain conditions. The ACLU, on behalf of the Coalition for Humane Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles and LA Voice, has intervened to defend the LAPD policy.
The California Vehicle Code mandates the vehicles of unlicensed drivers can be impounded for 30 days. However, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, under the policy enacted by Police Chief Beck and the Board of Police Commissioners, “vehicles of unlicensed drivers will only be impounded for a day, if that person has insurance, valid identification, has not caused an accident and has not been cited previously for unlicensed driving. An exception may be made in some cases if a licensed driver is immediately available to drive the vehicle away.”
But, as Judicial Watch notes in its complaint, according to the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, “a local government has no authority to regulate or control any matter covered by the California Vehicle Code unless such authority is expressly granted by the State of California….Because the provisions of Special Order 7 are not within the purview of any express authorization granted by the State of California Defendants…were without authority to enact Special Order 7…”
Judge Green issued his decision allowing the challenge to go forward from the bench on January 17, 2013, indicating that he could not dismiss this case without first receiving more information. The judge also suggested the policy might violate state codes, which Judicial Watch has argued in its court filings.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed May 8, 2012, with the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, seeks to stop the use of taxpayer funds to enforce Special Order 7:
Plaintiff, a taxpayer and resident of the City of Los Angeles, seeks to enjoin Defendants from expending taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources to implement, enforce, maintain, or otherwise carry out the provisions of Special Order 7, which was issued by the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) on April 10, 2012 and which became effective on April 22, 2012. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that Special Order 7 is preempted by article XI, section 7 of the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, and therefore is unlawful and void.
The police union, The Los Angeles Police Protection League, has also filed a lawsuit to stop the policy from being implemented.
“We are pleased the court will give this lawsuit the serious consideration it deserves. We very much look forward to making our case in court to put an end to this unlawful waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “At a time when taxpayer dollars are stretched beyond the limit the last thing the State of California should be doing is spending scarce resources to support an illegal alien sanctuary policy. Special Order 7 is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever been harmed by an unlicensed illegal alien driver. The Los Angeles Police Department is once again putting the needs of illegal aliens ahead of the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles.”