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Housing and Homelessness

LA County Wants Out Of Homelessness Lawsuit

A map on a red bicycle rides past the sign that reads: Skid Row City Limit. POP Too Many.
A cyclist rides past a Skid Row sign in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images)
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Lawyers for L.A. County asked a federal judge today to dismiss them from a lawsuit that would force county officials to take action on the homelessness crisis.

County attorney Skip Miller argued that U.S. Judge David O. Carter doesn't have the authority to rule in the matter.

"He said that legally, the Ninth Circuit and other courts have ruled that the court's role is to decide controversies and disputes,” freelance reporter Meghann Cuniff, who is covering the case for Los Angeles Magazine, told our newsroom. “It's not to intervene in government functions and essentially take over for budgetary decisions."

Meanwhile, attorneys for the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a group comprised of Skid Row residents and business owners, pressed in court today for Carter to force the local officials to take action.

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The group, which filed the lawsuit in March of last year, argued that the city and county have mismanaged the crisis, allowing homelessness to grow out of control.

The plaintiff's lawyer, Liz Mitchell, argued today that the city and county have mismanaged the crisis, allowing homelessness to grow out of control, and they need a court order to compel them to do more.

If the county isn't dismissed from the lawsuit, they'll likely take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court is already considering a motion to stay Carter's previous injunction that the city and county shelter every Skid Row Resident by October.

Should the case go to the Ninth Circuit, the issue at hand will be whether Carter is acting appropriately by intervening.

"It's a question of, are his methods going to stand up to any kind of Ninth Circuit review?" said Cuniff.

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The next hearing in the case is set for May 26th.