Ruling Sends Brown Act Case Back to Lower Court
June 9, 2016
A recent ruling from the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeals illustrates some potential pitfalls with litigation related to the Brown Act. The Brown Act “authorizes an interested person to commence a lawsuit…. to determine the applicability of the Brown Act to ongoing actions or threatened future actions of the legislative body.”
The case comes from the City of San Diego (City), where a regularly occurring public meeting over two days contained one opportunity for public comment. The City was sued over this practice, but the organization that brought the suit did not provide a cease and desist letter. The City changed its practice and adopted a new ordinance, offering one public comment period for each day of the meeting. The trial court dismissed the complaint, but the other party appealed. The appeal overturned the lower court’s decision.
While this case is one very specific example, it highlights the potential risks associated with the Brown Act and accompanying litigation. The Brown Act is complex and can have very real implications for county business.