Yakima’s appeal seeking to stay City Council elections has been turned back by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a decision released Friday, the court said the city’s appeal should be heard by the federal district court judge who first ordered the elections. And in a related development, that district court judge, Thomas Rice, ordered the city of Yakima to pay $1.8 million in legal costs and fees to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. In a lawsuit brought against the city by the ACLU, Rice ordered the city to revamp its election process earlier this year after ruling Yakima’s voting system violated the federal Voting Rights Act by routinely suppressing the rights of Latinos.
Yakima is appealing the judge’s earlier ruling in the 9th Circuit Court, but the appeal is expected to be delayed pending a decision in a Supreme Court case that could effectively overturn the lower court’s ruling.
Yakima’s defense attorney Francis Floyd said he believes the city won’t challenge the $1.8 million judgment. The ACLU had originally asked the court for $2.8 million, while Yakima’s legal team asserted the ACLU’s fees and costs shouldn’t exceed $500,000.
“I would say the city is very happy with Judge Rice’s ruling and would have no intention of appealing that,” said Floyd, a Seattle attorney contracted by the city.