Judge Blocks Herb Wesson’s Return to L.A. City Council

“Our day in court has arrived and with it another opportunity to defend voting rights and representation that is accountable to voters and equal protection and the presumption of innocence,” a plaintiff said.
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Herb Wesson’s return to the City Hall as a replacement for Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas has been barred by a Superior Court judge’s restraining order issued on Thursday.

The temporary restraining order, issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel, blocks Wesson’s participation as a council member until the next hearing of a lawsuit challenging his eligibility for the seat on March 17.

Wesson was initially sworn in on Tuesday as a replacement for Ridley-Thomas, who is facing corruption charges, including bribery.

Strobel said that both plaintiffs, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California and a group of voters in Ridley-Thomas’ district, are likely to succeed in contending that Wesson cannot return on an interim basis, as he has already served the maximum three terms allowed under the city’s term limit policy.

“Our day in court has arrived and with it another opportunity to defend voting rights and representation that is accountable to voters and equal protection and the presumption of innocence,” Pastor William D. Smart of SCLC said. “These are the fundamental rights to which we, as Americans, are entitled and deserve. These are the reasons 10th Council District voters went to court against Councilmember Nury Martinez and the Los Angeles City Council.”

The ruling marks an obstacle for Martinez, who strongly advocated for the return of Wesson as an interim replacement of Ridley-Thomas on a ten-month basis.

Ridley-Thomas, who was elected to represent District 10 in 2020, was suspended in Oct. 2021, as a result of a case that involved Marilyn Flynn, the former dean of the USC School of Social Work, and resulted in his indictment on numerous charges, including bribery.

The case alleges that Flynn had arranged to funnel $100,000 from Ridley-Thomas’ campaign funds through USC and to a nonprofit that was to be handled by his son, who was a former member of the Assembly.

Ridley-Thomas pleaded not guilty and the trial for the case is set to take place in August.

Wesson, who represented the 10th district from 2005 to 2020 and served as president of the council from 2012 to 2020, was voted in as a temporary replacement for Ridley-Thomas on Tuesday. He was to serve until Dec. 31 but with the intention of stepping down earlier if the charges against Ridley-Thomas were dropped or he triumphed in his court case.

Michael J. Proctor, attorney to Ridley-Thomas, issued a statement to Los Angeles magazine:

“For months one of Mark Ridley-Thomas’s primary concerns has been that Nury Martinez and City Council have consistently taken action without listening to the voters of District 10,” Proctor said. “Today, thankfully, someone—the court system—finally listened to their concerns. The lesson to District 10 voters? If you want to be counted, you need to fight for it.”


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