Parking Justice

One of the great things about going to law school and becoming a lawyer is the dream that one day, if the circumstances are right, you’re going to be able to do a great deed.

Perform a public service.

Do some real good for the downtrodden and the victims of injustice.

So I got myself ready to be inspired last week when I came across a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that began with this:

“This action aims to disprove the old adage that ‘You can’t fight City Hall and win.’ At the same time, it also seeks to use this Court and its class action procedures for precisely their intended purpose: To hold powerful wrongdoers accountable to the law, and to facilitate the efficient redress of claims, no matter how small, where a systemic injury exists.”

Wow. Strong words.

Then I made the mistake of turning to the next page. It seems that the powerful wrongdoer was the city of Pasadena, which “relentlessly enforced and unmercifully administered” a system in which people parking cars had to buy a ticket from a kiosk to put on their cars instead of using a regular old parking meter.

The horror!

At this point you may be wondering why anyone would sue over this. I’m still wondering but the explanation, according to the lawsuit, is that the Pasadena parking code authorized only the collection of parking fees at parking meters. And parking meters was “statutorily defined … with distinctive properties and characteristics, typically rendered in gray, affixed to a single pole, and located immediately adjacent to the parking space.”

So, technically, the city shouldn’t have been collecting money at the kiosks or ticketing people who forgot to use them.

Gotcha, you powerful wrongdoer!

The lawsuit goes on to claim that, as soon as the plaintiffs pointed this out to the city and asked for their parking money back, the city changed the wording of the ordinance so that the kiosks were legal.

Public service done?

Nope. The plaintiffs want what could be millions of dollars in refunds of fees. You can’t let some governmental wrongdoer hang onto money for public services or something when people have been deprived of what should have been free parking.

If you think this is odd, maybe this passage from the lawsuit will change your mind: “Principles are at stake. As anyone who has parked in the City knows, Pasadena enforces its ‘Pay & Display’ system with cold-blooded efficiency via a coterie of uniformed City officials who, on foot, on scooters, and on bikes lie in wait for violations to occur. There is no grace period.”

Now go back and reread that quote aloud in your best basso profundo movie-trailer voice. “In a world where principles are at stake… Pasadena enforces….”

I can’t wait for the summer blockbuster based on this.

What disqualifies? This may be a controversial thought, but I have to say I believe that U.S. Supreme Court justices have opinions.

They might seem mindless when we disagree with them but they do think about things. At least most of them do.

That’s why it seemed so odd last week when a bunch of Republicans demanded that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recuse herself from the immigration ban case because she once said that she “can’t imagine what the country would be” if Donald Trump was elected president.

Oddly, those very same Republicans haven’t demanded that Samuel Alito, who’s been going around giving speeches about religious liberty, recuse himself – and the immigration case is about religion.

No word either on whether Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from anything for giving speeches about limiting government and political correctness.

They’ve clearly all got biased opinions whether they talk about them or not.

So we’ve either got to disqualify all of them or just leave them alone.

I’m fine with it either way.

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