Tuesday, January 10, 2006

People v. Bhakta (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 9, 2006)

The dribble continues. No opinions from the Ninth Circuit. And -- frustrating my daily schedule -- the California Court of Appeal didn't issue its opinions on Monday until way late in the day. Stinkers.

Still, there is at least a marginally interesting one in there. This opinion concerns the fate of a particular hotel in Los Angeles. Justice Flier doesn't tell you which hotel we're talking about -- other than that it's on South Figueroa -- but a little research reveals that it's the Boulevard Motel at 6919 South Figueroa Boulevard. The number of the motel is particularly appropriate, since this is apparently a motel often frequented by ladies of the evening and their guests. Which is why the L.A. City Attorney brought this nuisance action to shut it down. (Interestingly, Justice Flier has some experience in this area, since she was a long-time member of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office; indeed, was the first female L.A. assistant city attorney. I'm sure this is not the first time she's reviewed decisions made by her former office -- or the last -- but, still, it's something worth at least brief mention.)

Anyway, there have been a lot of prostitution arrests at the ol' Boulevard Motel, and -- although Justice Flier doesn't mention it -- the police have also arrested various managers at the Boulevard for keeping a disorderly house and failing to properly maintain a hotel register. So now the City Attorney wants to close it down for good, and brings an abatement action against the owners. The City Attorney brings a motion to preliminarily enjoin the defendants from encouraging prostitution or providing a place where prostitution can occur. The trial court grants the motion, and since this won't be good for business (!), defendants appeal.

But Justice Flier properly affirms. The arguments that defendants make are fairly lame ones, including a crazy argument that the state court didn't have jurisdiction even after the case was remanded back to the state court (after defendant's improper removal to federal court). Suffice it to say that I wasn't particularly impressed by the contentions asserted by the defendants' attorney, Frank Weiser, a Southwestern graduate. Moreover, the only thing these arguments do is to increase both the defendants' own fees as well as the -- recoverable -- fees of the City Attorney, since they are recoverable in a nuisance action.

So there you have it. One less house of prostitution -- at least temporarily -- within sight of the 110 freeway.