Jan 20, 2016

Carole Beaton prayer lawsuit denied review by CA Supreme Court

Docket (Register of Actions)
Case Number S230252

10/29/2015Petition for review filedPlaintiff and Appellant: Carole Beaton
Attorney: Peter Eric Martin     
10/29/2015Record requested    
10/29/2015Note:    Court of Appeal record has been imported and is available in electronic format.
10/30/2015Received Court of Appeal record    one file folder, transcript, one accordion folder
11/02/2015Received:    $710 filing fee from appellant's counsel Peter Martin.
12/16/2015Time extended to grant or deny review    The time for granting or denying review in the above-entitled matter is hereby extended to and including January 27, 2016, or the date upon which review is either granted or denied.
01/20/2016Petition for review denied    

Previous posts:

Sep 26, 2014

Clarification about the prayer lawsuit that was not clear from the Times-Standard article

I sent an email out to all City Council members  and the City manager. I would like to thank Council members Mike Newman and Marian Brady for getting back to me and the clarification provided.

Mike Newman:We did not settle on the invocation issue, we are free to continue our policy. What was settled was the matter about the Mayor involving City Personnel in a Prayer breakfast several years ago.

City Attorney clarification (via Councilmember Marian Brady):

The US Supreme Court in the Town of Greece case held that invocations at city council meetings were lawful.  That decision, however, does not prevent Ms. Beaton from appealing the decision issued by the trial court in Humboldt County in favor of the City.  By settling this issue now, it saves the City a substantial amount because we have all agreed that Ms. Beaton has to pay for the cost of the appeal and her attorneys’ fees even if her appeal is successful.

I addition, the cost of a trial would have been substantial and while the City felt it was on solid legal ground there is always a risk.  By settling it before trial, the City will not incur substantial attorneys’ fees and costs to defend and will not have the risk of paying Ms. Beaton monetary damages and her attorneys’ fees and costs at the conclusion of a trial.

As is true with any unfounded claim or lawsuit against the City, the City has to make decisions about the costs to defend and the risk the claim poses.  In this case, it was decided to pay Ms. Beaton a portion of her attorneys’ fees (no monetary damages were paid to her) and permit her to go forward with her appeal, without further cost to the City, to end the matter.

Sep 22, 2015

Peter Martin loses appeal against City of Eureka over prayer lawsuit

Link to appellate courts.


The Appellate court dismissed and ruled against Carole Beaton and her lawyer Peter Martin in their appeal of Judge Watson's decision to uphold and allow invocations before City Council meetings.

Eureka City Frank Jager said, "We won this one."

Link to my community comment on KINS on this topic.

Link to TS story on the lawsuit.

Excerpt from decision:

Filed 9/21/15  Beaton v. City of Eureka CA1/1

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b).  This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. 




            Plaintiff and Appellant,
            Defendants and Respondents.


      (Humboldt County
      Super. Ct. No. DR130058)

            Plaintiff Carole Beaton sued the City of Eureka and the city’s mayor, Frank J├Ąger (collectively, the City), claiming the City’s policy allowing persons to offer invocations or prayers at council meetings violates provisions of the California Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.  She appeals the trial court’s order granting the City’s motion for summary judgment and finding the City’s written invocation policy to be valid.  While this action was pending, the City replaced the contested invocation policy with a new one, purportedly based on a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Because the policy plaintiff challenges in this appeal has been rescinded and replaced, we conclude her appeal is moot.  We therefore dismiss the appeal.

I asked local attorney Allan Dollison to elaborate on California Rule of Court 8.1115 (a). He said, "This means the case will never be published which means that it cannot be relied upon by others in Court for precedent. Since it was dismissed as Moot, which literally means the controversy or practice complained of no longer exists such as the Court of Appeals did not need to make a decision thus they punted. A dismissed appeal as moot is of little precedential value because it is unique to the facts of this case. On the other hand, the Plaintiff can claim credit as being the inciting factor for the change that ultimately got the appeal dismissed."

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