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Scandal in Santa Monica Voting Rights Lawsuit

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Voices of Santa Monica’s minority voters continue to be silenced by the City of Santa Monica’s nefarious tactics. In a stunning revelation, counsel for the City of Santa Monica in a voting rights case admitted that a study was produced to see if Santa Monica’s at-large election system was racially polarized.

According to a motion filed by the plaintiff’s attorneys, the City of Santa Monica hired an expert named Karin MacDonald to conduct a study on Santa Monica’s elections. Through sworn testimony by members of Santa Monica’s city council, it was confirmed that such a study existed and that Santa Monica’s at-large election system is rigged against minority voters.

Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos granted Plaintiff’s motion to subpoena MacDonald because the City of Santa Monica did not clearly state whether a report existed, or even if there was a relationship between Santa Monica and MacDonald. “We have overwhelming evidence that MacDonald was hired by the City of Santa Monica to investigate the claims made in our complaint. The city is twisting themselves into knots trying to hide MacDonald’s findings and remedies,” said Plaintiff’s Attorney R. Rex Parris of PARRIS Law Firm.

Faced with having to produce MacDonald for a deposition, the City of Santa Monica made the following proffer: “The city attorney retained Karin MacDonald through her company as a consulting expert after the complaint was filed on April 12, 2016. The retention occurred on or around April 18, 2016 for the purposes of assessing the allegations in the complaint, and to advise the city. The work was discussed in a closed session with the expectation that it would remain confidential. The city attorney’s office has retained that work with the expectation that it would remain confidential.”

This was in stark contrast to defense counsel Marcellus McRae’s representations on August 10, 2018. According to the August 10th trial transcript, McRae unequivocally told the court: “There was no study, there was no poll, and there was no survey.”

On August 28, 2018, the court ultimately ruled that MacDonald’s work was privileged, and it was maintained by the city attorney’s office in confidence.

Plaintiff’s attorney R. Rex Parris said: “There is no reason to pursue the issue further since the Court must recognize there is only one reason the City of Santa Monica fought so hard to cover up the existence of Karin MacDonald’s report. The MacDonald report showed that Santa Monica’s at-large election system breaks the law by suppressing the Latino vote. In a vain attempt to hold on to power, the City of Santa Monica hid the MacDonald report, and spent millions of taxpayer’s dollars fighting the case.”

Plaintiffs, The Pico Neighborhood Association and Maria Loya are represented by R. Rex Parris and Ellery S. Gordon of PARRIS Law Firm, Kevin I. Shenkman and Mary R. Hughes of Shenkman & Hughes, Milton C. Grimes of Law Offices of Milton C. Grimes, and Robert Rubin of Law Office of Robert Rubin.

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