High Speed Rail Decision on Track for Review at Court of Appeal

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Last Friday, Governor Brown’s administration (the “Petitioners”) filed a petition for extraordinary writ of mandate and application for temporary stay with the California Supreme Court, challenging Superior Court Judge Michael Kenney’s decision last November to halt construction of the high-speed rail project.  On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined to consider the petition and instead transferred it to the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento to be heard on an expedited basis. 

The Petitioners argued in their petition that the Superior Court’s decision will “thwart the intent of the voters,” and “cripples the government’s ability to function,” and will “hurt the ability of government to finance other voter-approved projects.”  The Petitioners also sought a temporary stay because the writ is “unreviewable on appeal” because it was issued without a final judgment.  The High Speed Rail Authority (the “Authority”) is under mounting pressure as the Superior Court’s decision may jeopardize the Authority’s future funding.  Federal funding obligations require the Authority to make a matching contribution of $180 million to the federal government’s contribution by May 2014.  The Superior Court’s refusal to validate Prop 1A’s bonds limits the Authority’s access to funds previously raised for the project through the bond sales.