April 27, 2015 -- The International Municipal Lawyers Association honored Aleshire & Wynder partner Tiffany J. Israel and associate Jeff M. Malawy with the Amicus Service Award for legal advocacy on April 24, 2015 in Washington D.C.
The award recognizes Ms. Israel and Mr. Malawy for their preparation and filing of an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of the City of Newport Beach’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in City of Newport Beach v. Pacific Shores Properties, LLC, Docket No. 14-56, a case arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act.
The City of Newport Beach had enacted an ordinance restricting group living arrangements. According to the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the practical effect of the ordinance was to prohibit “group homes” -- homes in which recovering alcoholics and drug users live communally -- from opening in most residential zones and to require existing group homes to undergo a permit process to continue their operations.
Even though the plaintiff group homes could not demonstrate they were treated differently under the ordinance than any other type of group living arrangement, the Ninth Circuit held a jury could find—based on the history that preceded the ordinance’s enactment and comments made during city council meetings—that the facially neutral ordinance was motivated by an improper desire among city officials and local residents to discriminate against recovering addicts. Discriminatory motive alone, the Ninth Circuit held, could be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act, even if the ordinance has no actual discriminatory effect.
Ms. Israel and Mr. Malawy argued to the Supreme Court that, among other things, the Ninth Circuit’s decision will have a chilling effect on public comments of elected municipal officials, municipal staff, legal counsel, and members of the public for fear of creating evidence of discriminatory intent, even where no such intent is actually present and where the City’s action has no actual discriminatory effect.
Tiffany J. Israel serves as the City Attorney of the Cities of Lawndale and Fillmore, and is special litigation counsel to the City of Newport Beach. Jeff M. Malawy serves as the Assistant City Attorney of the Cities of Hesperia, Lompoc, and Fillmore, and is special litigation counsel to the City of Newport Beach and the City of Fresno. Mr. Malawy’s litigation practice covers all areas of municipal law, with particular focus on constitutional law, regulatory takings, medical marijuana litigation, and writs of mandate.