A hearing was held on January 11th, 2018, before Judge Alsup to argue whether either of the parties should win “by default” based on the record so far. His decided not to award either party a victory – the case will go to trial.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF BERKELEY, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Both sides’ motions for summary judgment are DENIED due to genuine disputes of material fact. If both sides will so stipulate, the Court will try this case on the summary judgment record based on its own factual evaluation thereof. If both sides will so stipulate, we will have closing arguments with each side receiving an hour (total of two hours). Otherwise, we will proceed to a bench trial with a fresh record. Counsel shall please promptly advise the Court how they wish to proceed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: January 23, 2018.
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Read the complete transcript of the hearing before Judge Alsup on 10-11-17 concerning the matter of who the Postal Service lawyers get to depose (i.e., question before trial) with respect to City of Berkeley officials and staff, and what questions they would be allowed to ask them.
It’s quite technical but here are a few, choice, non-technical snippets:
Judge Alsup in reply to the Postal Service’s lawyer:
“This is too complicated. I’m sorry, I didn’t follow anything you said for the last two minutes…”
Judge Alsup talking about expert witnesses:
They always bring somebody who’s a trained seal…
Judge Alsup talking about what might happen if former Mayor Tom Bates were to be deposed (questioned):
Or he could be a trained seal and say, I don’t know. I have forgotten everything I ever knew in my retirement.
Judge Alsup on trial procedure:
…you’re not stuck with just your own hired gun and your own trained seal…
Courtesy of Alicia Gallo, a Richmond Community member.
Timeline of Events
- January – Feb: Notice of disposal action posted
- Jan 25 – When contacted by office of Mayor Tom Butt, USPS responded that the notice had been posted in error, intend to sell was not accurate and that action related to the relocation proposal needed to be conducted first; Many community members and elected officials sent letters.
- On January 26- councilmember Martinez drafts an agenda item contesting the notice to sell the Nevin Street post office after being alerted to the notice by a constituent.
- February 8- resolution passed and letter sent to post office officials.
Have been (at least temporarily) thwarted in Berkeley, Postal Service officials have turned their sights on Richmond, attempting to move service from their existing, centrally located downtown Post Office to a badly situated site outside of the immediate downtown.
Join us in fighting this decision and saving the Richmond Main Post Office:
Berkeley’s City Attorney has set up a web page with links to court filings in USPS v. City of Berkeley.
The USPS wants to kill our Zoning Overlay Ordinance for the Historic District as it pertains to the Allston Way Post Office.
The Postal Service has announced that as of March 1st it will sever its relationship with Staples. No longer will minimum wage workers with no benfits process the US Mail, taking living wage jobs away from unionized postal workers.
A Nov. 8 ruling by the labor board [NLRB] required the Postal Service to discontinue its retail relationship with Staples… The board ruled that the Postal Service had violated the union’s collective bargaining rights by implementing the Staples deal, and said it must end the partnership with Staples upon request of the union.
The fight against the Staplization of the Postal Service may have ended with a board ruling in Washington, but it began right here in Berkeley.
Thursday, December 22nd, in Federal Court in San Francisco, Judge William Alsup declined to dismiss the Federal Government’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley. The lawsuit claims that Berkeley’s new zoning of the Historic District – which includes the downtown Berkeley Post Office – is unconstitutional. This zoning ordinance, which prohibits most commercial uses of the properties around Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley, was passed in 2014.
In refusing the motion to dismiss, Judge Alsup stated something pretty close to “This case needs a trial. A real trial. With evidence and witnesses… With blood on the floor.” (Really. I’m not making that last up).
A trial date is set for December 4th, 2017. The judge directed the Postal Service and the City of Berkeley to begin settlement discussions under the direction of a Federal Magistrate Judge. Those could happen as early as February, 2017.
See here and here for more on the lawsuit.
Courthouse News reports on the hearing here.
The transcript of the proceedings is here: 16_12_22_transcript.
Judge Alsup’s ruling rejecting the City of Berkeley’s Motion to Dismiss is here: motion-to-dismiss-denied.