Legal update: judge issues injunction, rejects Pacifica’s vote-purging

Today, December 15, Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch issued a preliminary injunction requiring Pacifica to seat KPFA DJ Lewis Sawyer as staff representative on KPFA’s Local Station Board. Lewis had initially been declared a winner in the recently-concluded election, but then Pacifica retroactively disqualified three staff members’ votes to change the outcome of the election. The suit alleges Pacifica threw out the votes of Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Mitch Jeserich, and an unknown third person after it already knew how they’d voted. (Pacifica chose which voters to eliminate because each ballot is printed with a barcode that identifies the voter — there is no secret ballot in board elections.)

Judge Roesch has a progressive track record on the bench, issuing decisions that made headlines for blocking Governor Arnold Schwazenegger’s unilateral furloughs of state employees, and blocking bank evictions of tenants across the state of California. He chastised Pacifica’s attorneys for their slow response to requests to settle this issue without litigation, stating that Pacifica’s delay seemed “inexcusable.” To issue the injunction, he found that the lawsuit has a substantial likelihood of success on its merits. [UPDATE: Pacifica conceded, and by court order, Lewis Sawyer will be seated on the local station board. KPFA’s workers’ attorney was Peter Smith, a Democrat who works in a bipartisan law firm that specializes in elections law.]

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