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IID Petitions Appellate Court to Reassign Abatti Case on Attorney Fees, Costs

Attorneys for Imperial Irrigation District on Friday, Oct. 23, filed a writ of mandate with the Fourth District Court of Appeal in the Michael Abatti v. IID case seeking to have further action by the trial court reassigned to another judge, according to a district news release.

Action is pending before the trial court regarding whether IID is entitled to a reassignment for attorneys’ fees and costs. Last week, the district petitioned Judge L. Brooks Anderholt to recuse himself, and he declined, according to the release.

The district believes such reassignment, under the circumstances, is warranted.

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“By taking action to file this writ of mandate with the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the IID board is doing what it must do to protect the interests of the public that it serves,” Frank Oswalt, IID general counsel, stated in the release. “The board can no longer ignore the trial court’s record of bias in this litigation. From day one before this judge (Anderholt), his rulings, reactions to counsel and, ultimately, his written decision were, in my view, demonstrably biased against the district.

“A close reading of the Court of Appeal’s reversal of the judge’s 2017 order reveals a litany of questionable holdings and conclusions that, in retrospect, are obviously the result of bias. By denying IID’s well-founded request that he recuse himself, Judge Anderholt has left the board no choice but to file this writ with the Court of Appeal that seeks his removal from the case,” Oswalt further stated.

“In the interests of justice and impartiality, the most prudent thing for Judge Anderholt to do was to have stepped aside; it is regrettable that he chose to not do so,” Norma Sierra Galindo, IID board president, stated in the release. “Our legal counsel has advised the board to seek relief from the Fourth District Court of Appeal and this is precisely what we did by authorizing general counsel to file this writ of mandate.”

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