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Chief Justice Guerrero’s first opinion limits attorney fee awards against plaintiffs in election law cases

The court’s unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero — her first as a Supreme Court justice — concludes that, even though the pertinent attorney provision of the Act is facially neutral on the issue (the statute says “[t]he court may award [attorney fees] to a plaintiff or defendant who prevails”), it should be interpreted “to impose an asymmetrical standard, which constrains the trial court’s discretion to award attorney’s fees to a prevailing defendant.” This is the same standard the court applied in actions alleging violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.