Judge denies restraining order in ASPOA case
October 20, 2013
The recall election in Alta Sierra will go forward, but with a caveat.
Nevada County Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson on Thursday denied the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association's request for a temporary restraining order intended to prevent a Saturday election designed to recall the entire nine-person board of directors, but delayed deciding on whether the vote will be recognized as legitimate.
The legal counsel for the ASPOA board, Daniel Horton, sought the restraining order as a means of preventing an election that he said would cause "significant chaos, anger and confusion."
"We would have two separate ASPOA boards (if the election goes forward)," Horton said.
“Obviously, they can have whatever meeting they have on Saturday, but whether it has any weight that actually applies to (ASPOA) … is not being decided by me at this point.”
Judge Tom Anderson
Horton and colleague Peter Lemmon have argued that Saturday's election does not comply with ASPOA's bylaws or the California Corporations Code, which regulates mutual benefit associations such as the ASPOA.
Even if the election moves forward, it will have no merit and will cause widespread confusion and animosity, Lemmon argued.
"You made a comment, Mr. Lemmon, that makes sense but is not necessarily what the law directs me to do," Anderson said. "To prevent future action by taking action today … I kind of agree with that in essence, but in the research I've done … I don't think I can issue an injunction."
After the meeting, Lemmon deemed the ruling "safe."
Anderson scheduled another hearing for Nov. 7 in an effort to determine whether the two scheduled elections — the recall on Saturday and a Nov. 2 election to replace the board if the recall is successful — are legally valid.
Anderson said Thursday's decision on the restraining order is not a judgment on the validity of the elections.
"Obviously, they can have whatever meeting they have on Saturday, but whether it has any weight that actually applies to (ASPOA), whether any vote they take has legitimacy, is not being decided by me at this point," Anderson said.
"I'm not going to enjoin their meeting, but what effect that meeting will have will be determined at another time."
John Vodonick, the legal representative for Alta Sierra Neighbors, successfully argued the restraining order sought by the ASPOA would have restricted his clients' rights to free speech, assembly and their right to vote. The rancor and acrimony that has characterized the divisive debate in Alta Sierra spilled over into the courtroom Thursday morning, with Vodonick attacking Lemmon's abilities as a lawyer.
"There's a thing called due process, you might have learned about it in law school," Vodonick said, but declined further comment following the hearing.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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