Judge Gregory Munoz ruled against plaintiffs Eileen Garcia and George Riviere in their lawsuit to stop city funding of the Laguna Beach Day Worker Center on Monday.
The suit aimed to stop the city’s funding, claiming it was both a waste of taxpayer funds and illegal for serving undocumented workers. Munoz’s ruling says there is no evidence for either allegation.
“There is ample evidence that a public benefit was provided,” the ruling reads.
The ruling also said the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence of the city doing anything illegal by funding the South County Crosscultural Council, which runs the center. Neither does the city have constructive knowledge of aiding illegal immigrants.
Bob Owen, the attorney who represented Laguna Beach in the case, was not surprised by the ruling after the oral arguments in court.
“I’m happy about it,” Owen said. “But I wasn’t especially surprised.”
Munoz’s ruling doesn’t spell an end to Garcia’s suit however, as lawyers from Judicial Watch — the conservative law group that took up the case on Garcia and Riviere’s behalf — have indicated plans to appeal the decision.
“We were committed to that from the start,” Judicial Watch attorney Sterling Norris said.
Garcia is of two minds about the decision.
“It would have been nice if this judge had ruled in our favor, but all along we have been expecting to go to the next higher court,” Garcia said.
The higher the case goes in court, the more exposure it will bring to the issue of illegal immigration, which would be a positive for Judicial Watch, Garcia said.
“I’m excited because the higher the court, the bigger the decision, the more it affects the issue,” Garcia said.