Court denies Segel petition

Efforts to block the investigation of Gil Segel and “Malibu Citizens for Less Traffic on PCH” for alleged violations of campaign laws, by both the FPPC and the city of Malibu, were once again thwarted.

Judge Robert H. O’Brien, who is hearing the case, recently denied Segel’s petition for a Writ of Mandate. However, the judge indicated he would not issue a final order until he had heard from the Court of Appeal. That court is reviewing his earlier decision to allow discovery and examination of records kept by Segel and by the committee, including bank records.

Segel and the committee had appealed O’Brien’s earlier decision, but the legal battle may have become more complex when the ACLU asked and received permission to file an amicus brief in support of the position of Segel and “The Malibu Citizens.”

The Court of Appeal could deny the Segel/Malibu Citizens’ request summarily or it could decide to hear the appeal in its entirety.

In his order denying the requested writ, O’Brien held that the state not only had a right to investigate but is actually required to investigate “possible violations” of law, and, therefore, he was denying the request to block that investigation.

O’Brien also held that the city’s investigation is founded in the responsibility to investigate possible violations of its municipal code.

In another, and possibly related, development at Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn named Segel to the ad hoc committee to look for and recommend the new permanent city attorney to replace recently departed City Attorney Christi Hogin.

In the past, the office of the Malibu city attorney has been cooperating with the state. In many respects, the city and state have jointly investigated the alleged campaign violations in connection with the 1998 Malibu City Council election.

Any new permanent Malibu city attorney retained by the council will be deciding whether to continue that cooperation. Some insiders have estimated that it might take as long as six months to find and hire a new permanent city attorney.

In the meantime, the decision about whether to continue cooperating with the state will be in the hands of the recently hired interim city attorney, Richard Terzian, of the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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