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Case Name Davies v. County of Los Angeles FA-CA-0010
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00907-CAS-JEM ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On February 6, 2014, various religious leaders and scholars from the greater Los Angeles area filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California. The plaintiffs, represented by private and public counsel with ACLU involvement, sued the County Board of Los ... read more >
On February 6, 2014, various religious leaders and scholars from the greater Los Angeles area filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California. The plaintiffs, represented by private and public counsel with ACLU involvement, sued the County Board of Los Angeles under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They alleged that the County had violated the United States and California Constitutions by reinstating a cross onto the design of the county seal. The plaintiffs sought an injunction prohibiting the county from using the new seal which was a violation fo the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and a violation of the California Constitution.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs stated that the Los Angeles County Board of supervisors approved the restoration of the cross on the official seal. They argued the cross was unequivocally a religious symbol. In support of their claim, the plaintiffs explained that 10 years prior of the release of the new seal in 2014, the board took the cross off the seal after finding it was a clear endorsement of religious preference. As such the plaintiffs claimed the addition of the cross violated the plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Constitutional rights and was a violation of the plaintiff’s rights protected by the California Constitution.

Between November 2014 and April of 2016, the parties engaged in discovery. Meanwhile, on February 9, 2015, Magistrate Judge McDermott recused himself and the case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Mumm. Additionally, on March 4, 2015, the plaintiffs notified the court one of the plaintiffs had died and the case should continue without them.

On September 17, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion for permanent injunction. On November 3 and November 4, of 2015, both parties filed motions detailing their proposed finding of fact. On November 12, 2015 the court heard arguments regarding the injunction.

On April 6, 2016, Judge Christina Snyder granted the plaintiff’s motion finding the addition of the cross on the LA county seal violated the three-part Lemon Test and that a reasonable observer would find that the cross had the effect of endorsing one religion over another.177 F.Supp.3d 1194.

On May 23, 2016, the court heard arguments on the plaintiff's proposed judgment and permanent injunction. The same day Judge Snyder found in favor of the plaintiffs. Judge Snyder held that the addition of the cross on the seal violated the California and Federal Constitutions. The order also included instructions for the new seal to be removed where possible and replaced with the old seal. Exceptions included published documents that contained the new seal and buildings where the removal would cause structural damage and there was no other way to cover up the cross. The defendants were permanently enjoined from using the seal with the cross in the future. The defendants were permitted to create a new seal in accords with the order given. The defendants were given a period of 145 days to comply with the court order.2016 WL 2977306

This case is closed.

Kim Zhang - 07/13/2014
Taylor Brook - 02/02/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Establishment Clause
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Los Angeles County Board
Plaintiff Description Several Religious leaders of the community along with a Professor and UCLA's Department Chair of History.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  ACLU Davies v. Los Angeles
https://www.aclusocal.org/en/cases/davies-v-county-los-angeles
Date: Feb. 2, 2018
By: ACLU
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:14-cv-00907-CAS-JEM (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-CA-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Permanent Injunction [ECF# 159] (177 F.Supp.3d 1194) (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0010-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 166] (2016 WL 2977306) (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Snyder, Christina A. (C.D. Cal.)
FA-CA-0010-0002 | FA-CA-0010-0003 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burrow, Linda M (California)
FA-CA-0010-0001 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Chemerinsky, Jeffrey M (California)
FA-CA-0010-0001 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Eliasberg, Peter J. (California)
FA-CA-0010-0001 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Esbenshade, Andrew (California)
FA-CA-0010-0001 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)
FA-CA-0010-0001 | FA-CA-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Coates, Timothy Towery (California)
FA-CA-0010-9000
Ellyatt, Patricia E (California)
FA-CA-0010-9000
Maranga, Kenneth A (California)
FA-CA-0010-9000
Ozello, Frank J Jr (California)
FA-CA-0010-9000

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