Imperial, California - The Fourth District Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted the IID’s petition for a writ of mandate against the trial court in the Mike Abatti v. IID litigation, directing Imperial County Superior Court Judge Brooks Anderholt to enter a new order disqualifying himself from the case.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted the Imperial Irrigation District’s petition for a writ of mandate against the trial court in the Mike Abatti v. IID litigation, directing Imperial County Superior Court Judge Brooks Anderholt to enter a new order disqualifying himself from the case.
Finding that Judge Anderholt erred when he denied the preemptory challenge IID filed against him, to which it was entitled by law, the Court observed that the relief it was granting was appropriate since, “the applicable law is settled, the District is clearly entitled to relief [and] disqualification issues require prompt resolution.”
IID had sought Judge Anderholt’s recusal from the case citing instances of prejudice in the administrative record, after his original decision in the water-rights litigation was largely reversed this summer by the same appellate court.
IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said that he had been confident in the petition the District filed with the appellate court, and gratified by its ruling.
“The most difficult part of this case, the water-rights question has been resolved in the District’s favor,” Oswalt said. “What remains is the separate matter of costs and attorneys’ fees which is, as IID argued and the Court of Appeal has agreed, a new trial. Now, as a result of this ruling, there will be a new judge hearing it.”
“The Court of Appeal’s order to Judge Anderholt commanding that he remove himself from the Abatti litigation affirms the belief that this judge demonstrated a bias against the Imperial Irrigation District," added IID Board President Norma Galindo. “That bias led him to make a number of incorrect decisions that the Court of Appeal identified in their opinion. With a new judge the IID stands a better chance of a fair outcome, one that benefits all the water users that the IID serves.”