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Are these violations of the Brown Act and or the First Amendment?

Los Angeles, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

So i went down to City Council to voice my opinion on an issue that is close to me. When I entered the police officer refused me entry unless I showed an ID. I explained that the Brown Act does not require me to show an ID to get into City Council, she still demanded or I could not enter. Mind you, I have been here dozens of times, and this never happened before. So after I showed ID she let me in. Once inside they called the item I had a card on and allowed for one public comment to be made by the city attorney. They then tabled the item and brought it back but did not allow public comment. They just voted over my objections. Is this a violation of the brown act? If so, what can be done about it?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

According to California Government Code Section 54953.3: "A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.
If an attendance list, register, questionnaire, or other similar document is posted at or near the entrance to the room where the meeting is to be held, or is circulated to the persons present during
the meeting, it shall state clearly that the signing, registering, or completion of the document is voluntary, and that all persons may attend the meeting regardless of whether a person signs, registers, or completes the document."

So it would seem, at first glance, that the law is clearly on your side.

HOWEVER, one interesting point to make is that there may be a legal difference between what the City of Los Angeles can do to the entrance of City Hall, versus what they can do to the entrance of the City Council Chamber. I just point out that distinction, not to reinforce it, but to highlight it, for it may be of legal significance.

As for your First Amendment arguments, yes you can always make them in addition to claims concerning alleged violations of municipal laws.

If you wanted to proceed with a legal action, you would file in Los Angeles Superior Court, at first, a complaint requesting "injunctive relief," i.e., a Court order directing the "Sergeant at Arms" of the Los Angeles City Council to admit you at future meetings, according to the terms set forth in the Government Code, cited above.

The Court can also void actions of the City Council operating in violation of the law. It can also award damages and attorney fees.

I would suggest, first, exhausting one option: talk to your City Council Member's office, and ask them to review ID procedures, in light of state law.

This answer is provided as per the terms and conditions of Avvo.com, and it in no way establishes any attorney-client relationship between any parties reading or relying upon this answer. Members of the public are always advised to seek their own independent legal counsel before making any decision or initiating any action.

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2 comments

Christine James

Christine James

Posted

This is very good information. I would just add one other caution. This needs to be a matter worth spending a great deal of time (and potentially money) to fight for. It sounds like you are very passionate about it and that is great, but changing what happened will be an uphill battle that you need to be prepared for.

Louis Anthes

Louis Anthes

Posted

Attorney James is right on. Consider contacting the ACLU Chapter for Los Angeles, also you could consider contacting the Attorney General's Office for the State of California, too.

Posted

I agree with Attorney Anthes' comments.

Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created by this communication. Attorney is licensed in California only.

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Posted

You should look for public itnteresdt law firms who might be willing to represent you in this matter. Hiring and paying up front for a lawyer could be expensive.

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