“California Judge Boots Majority of City’s Councilmembers For Illegally Holding Onto Power”

Law & Crime:

A judge has ordered the majority of a Southern California city’s governing body to be removed from office, concluding that the trio illegally held power by refusing to hold an election as required.

The order finalized Wednesday by Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm calls for three members of the five-member city council in Mission Viejo to vacate their positions by 5 p.m. Pacific Time today, but it will be stayed for 30 days as lawyers for the city and councilmembers appeal.

The extraordinary development follows years of political wrangling in the 95,000-resident Orange County suburb over how to address a state law that calls for members of representative governing bodies to be elected through separate districts within a jurisdiction, instead of an at-large system where all voters select their top choices from all candidates. Lawyers for the resident who sued say the case exemplifies the dangers of unchecked power and the need for transparency with local governing bodies as public scrutiny becomes more scarce

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