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Madera County And The ACLU Settle Lawsuit

MADERA — The County of Madera and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California settled a lawsuit on Wednesday regarding California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act.

The ACLU filed suit in July of last year, alleging the County violated the Brown Act during a closed session item at a Board of Supervisors meeting on Mar. 7, 2017.

According to a joint statement released yesterday by Madera County Counsel’s Office and the ACLU, the lawsuit was prompted in part by statements made by Madera County District Attorney David Linn to local media outlets, and in a press release, asserting the Board had taken action to expand the jail’s coordination with federal immigration authorities.

The ACLU’s lawsuit claimed that the Board violated the open meetings requirements of the Brown Act by taking an action impacting the jail’s cooperation with immigration enforcement, behind closed doors.

The County says this is not true, and maintains that the statements by the District Attorney were inaccurate and unauthorized. During litigation, the County argued that no action was taken by the Board in closed session, and no Brown Act violation occurred.

Ultimately, the ACLU and the County agreed to resolve the matter and enter into a settlement agreement. As part of the settlement, the Madera County Chief of Corrections will prepare a staff report describing existing jail policies with respect to communications with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and include an analysis of Senate Bill 54 (California Values Act).

The Chief of Corrections will present the report to the Board of Supervisors in an open session on Mar. 13. At a second public meeting on Mar. 27, the Board may take any further action on the staff report, provided such action is within the scope of the agenda item.

“The ACLU commends the Madera County Board of Supervisors for entering into a settlement and for its commitment to comply with the Brown Act and to ensure transparency in its Board meetings,” said Angelica Salceda, Staff Attorney for the ACLU.

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