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Superior Court Judge reprimands Pasadena for “playing games” with OIR Report on the fatal McDade shooting

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City has 10 days to respond

Los Angeles Superior Court James C. Chalfant accused the City of Pasadena of “playing games” Tuesday by refusing to decide whether or not to publicly release the OIR Report on the Pasadena Police Department’s shooting/killing of Kendrec McDade.

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Judge Chalfant dissolved the temporary restraining order (“TRO”) he issued September 3 which had barred release of the OIR Report. Telling the City it had to “fish or cut bait” on deciding whether to release the OIR Report and to “stop playing games,” Judge Chalfant ordered the City to decide within 10 days whether it will grant the Public Record Act request for the OIR Report by McDade’s mother Anya Slaughter, Pasadena grass-roots organizations the NAACP, ACT, and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (“IMA”), and community activist Kris Ockershauser.
The context of Judge Chalfant’s being visibly disturbed by the City’s gamesmanship was that Pasadena City Attorney Michelle Bagneris invited the Pasadena Police Officer’s Association (“PPOA”) to file a lawsuit against the City, released the OIR Report to the PPOA attorneys who were suing the City but not to the members of the public requesting the Report, and then used the TRO that the PPOA got by filing the lawsuit as the City’s excuse to avoid making a decision decide whether or not to release the Report. Judge Chalfant described the City as “straddling the fence” by hiding behind his TRO to avoid deciding on whether ornot it is going to release the OIR Report. The Judge said that by dissolving the TRO, he was eliminating the City’s excuse for refusing to make that decision.
Today’s hearing was initiated by attorneys Dale Gronemeier and Skip Hickambotton on behalf of Slaughter, the NAACP, ACT, the IMA, and Ockershauser. They contended that the PPOA lawsuit should be thrown out of court because it is a “reverse public-records-act lawsuit” which cannot be asserted unless and until the City makes a decision to release the OIR Report. Gronemeier and Hickambottom asked Judge Chalfant to schedule a motion to throw out the PPOA complaint because it is not ripe for filing; Judge Chalfant agreed with the Gronemeier/Hickambottom analysis, cancelled the hearing on a preliminary injunction set for September 23, and dissolved the TRO. The Judge ordered the City to make a decision within 10 days on releasing the OIR Report and to notify the PPOA; he gave the PPOA and the Gronemeier/Hickambottom clients five court days to come back to Court if they were dissatisfied with the result.
Gronemeier said after the hearing “this is the first time in 39 years practicing law that a Judge has given me more than I asked for. We not only de facto got the PPOA complaint thrown out because it is not ripe, but we didn’t have to go back to court for another hearing as I had expected and the Court dissolved the TRO even though we did not ask for that.”

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