Occupy LA sues: What are their chances?

James Lafferty

Mae Ryan/KPCC

James Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild announces legal efforts being made to keep the protesters in the park around City Hall on Monday morning.

Occupy LA supporters are asking a federal judge to bar the city from tearing down their tent city on the lawn near City Hall where they've been since Oct. 1. The city has until tomorrow to respond to a filing in L.A. Superior Court on which five protesters are named as plaintiffs. How likely is it they'll get their way?

Not likely.

The protesters are asking for three main things — a temporary restraining order to prevent police from dismantling the camp, a declaration from the court that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa acted incorrectly when he ordered the camp cleaned up, and their attorney's fees. [PDF]

Specifically, the complaint accuses the city of "arbitrary and capricious action in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments by first approving the Occupy presence for 56 days before suddenly revoking permission through the unilateral action of defendants." The city declared the camp closed Monday at midnight, though they haven't yet forced out protesters.

James Lafferty, a lawyer and one of the individuals named in the filing, said told reporters today that they mayor doesn't have the power to unilaterally override councilmembers, who earlier this month passed a resolution supporting the encampment. There's also some arguments in the filing having to do with the city's previous approval of otherwise illegal camping, most recently when it allowed hundreds to camp on sidewalks for days before the latest "Twilight" premiere.

The city, for its part, told the L.A. Times it's prepared to oppose the filing with three declarations, including a letter from an LAPD officer about enforcing the ordinance that bans people from being in parks overnight, a letter from Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri discussing the presumably increasingly poor condition of City Hall's park, and a letter from Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter alleging protesters did not give the city proper notice of their intention to seek the restraining order.

Under federal rules, in order to win a temporary order, the five protesters who requested it have to prove that:

• Their lawsuit likely will eventually be successful.

• Without a temporary order, they'll be "irreparably harmed."

• A temporary order won't irreparably harm the city.

• A temporary order serves the public interest.

That's a lot, and the Atlantic Wire points out that a similar set of arguments didn't work for Occupy Wall Street when it attempted to continue camping in its Zuccotti Park digs.

Does it seem to you like the Occupiers have a case? Stay tuned at our live blog for the results.

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