Friday, January 9, 2015

Cops Don't Have Standing to Challege Orders

L.A. Police Protective League v. City of L.A., No. B251796 (D2d8 Dec. 26, 2014)

So the police trade association and some random citizen are challenging an LAPD directive that limits the cops’ discretion to impound vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers. They argued that the directive conflicted with some provisions in the state vehicle code. The trial court—after finding that the association and the citizen had taxpayer standing under Code of Civil Procedure § 526a—agreed. But the court here reverses.

Section 526a can be used to enjoin a facially illegal or unconstitutional expenditure of pubic funds. But it cannot impinge executive or legislative direction. While the statute speaks to “waste” it does not provide an avenue for taxpayers to second guess the manner a government body has chosen to address a problem, so long as it does not violate a clear legal standard.

The directive in this case did not create new law—it afforded instructions how police officers were to exercise discretion under the state statutory impoundment scheme. That is a decision well within the discretion of the chief of the LAPD.  Thus, because the directive was not facially unlawful, neither the citizen nor the association had taxpayer standing under § 526a.


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