The Dalidio civil suit brought against the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association and Responsible County Development LLC will be heard in a federal court in Los Angeles, rather than continuing in the local superior court.
The move was requested by the defendants in response to allegations of RICO violations--charges of corruption within an organization
SLO City Attorney Jonathan Lowell said that the federal judiciary is better positioned to address issues of federal law, including possible First Amendment considerations. Lowell is not representing the Downtown Association in this suit, but the city is paying the group's legal bills.
The Downtown Association is a quasi-city organization that promotes downtown businesses. It's currently seeking to separate itself from the city and become a private entity.
In addition to the Downtown Association, the lawsuit is also seeking damages from as many as 500 "Doe" defendants--unnamed members of Responsible County Development LLC. The suit, filed Aug. 31 by the Dalidio Family Trust, essentially alleges that the Downtown Association misused public funds to sway the election against Dalidio in a 2005 SLO city election. It also raises suspicions that members of the Downtown Association board were involved with the LLC to oppose Measure J, a 2006 countywide vote that approved plans for the shopping project.
James McKiernan, who represents Dalidio, said he welcomes the opportunity to have an impartial judge view the case with "fresh eyes," and hopes that the process can move more efficiently through a federal court.
McKiernan said he also anticipates that a federal judge could be more generous in awarding any damages to his client.
The trial is expected to start in late December of this year or early January of next year, and, by some estimations, could drag out for a year or more.