A Livermore neighborhood group’s lawsuit against the city and a developer was reassigned again after the first two judges were disqualified.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Noël Wise on March 13 became the third judge assigned to the case since the case was filed a month before.
The lawsuit, filed on Feb. 13 by Friends of South Livermore, alleges the Livermore City Council abused its discretion by granting approval and ignoring what it claims are conflicts between the project and the city’s own general plan, the South Livermore Valley Specific Plan, the municipal code and state environmental laws.
In addition to the city, the lawsuit opposes the developer Michelle Boss and LWCI Inc. — a business entity she started for the Livermore Wine Country Inn — and the Alameda County Surplus Property Authority, which remains title owner of the land where the hotel is planned pending sale.
On March 5, the court reassigned the case to Judge Evelio Grillo, after granting the City of Livermore’s request to disqualify the first judge, Hon. Frank Roesch, based on a declaration that the judge is prejudiced against the city’s case.
On March 12, Friends of South Livermore filed a motion to disqualify Grillo based on a declaration that the judge was prejudiced against its interests. It was assigned to Judge Wise the following day.
The California Code of Civil Procedure provides a party to litigation the ability to disqualify any judge based on a good-faith belief that the judge is prejudiced against the party or its attorney so that they cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge.
The Friends of South Livermore lawsuit asks the court to reverse city approval for the hotel project and seeks an injunction halting any action on the development pending the court’s decision.
Livermore City Attorney Jason Alcala said in an email to The Independent in early March the city believes project approval was appropriate and applicable regulations were followed.
A case management conference is scheduled for May 15 at 9 a.m. in Dept. 24 of the Administration Building, 1221 Oak St. in Oakland. Since March 17, the courthouse has been closed to the public under an emergency order that is set to expire May 1. It is unclear at this point whether the proceedings will continue as scheduled, whether in the court or remotely via telephone or videoconference.