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expert witness services
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California Voting Rights Act

We have provided expert testimony, consulting, and demographic support for a variety of lawsuits, including political redistricting, jury selection, housing discrimination, school desegregation, developer fee challenges, and redevelopment agency negotiations.  We have provided reports, depositions, and expert witness testimony in California and Federal courts.

Civil Rights Cases (housing, school desegregation, jury composition, environmental justice, employment)

United States v. Post Properties, Inc., et al., 2013-present.  The U.S. Department of Justice sued a national apartment management company for designing and constructing large apartment buildings that allegedly discriminated against those with a disability.  Dr. Lapkoff was retained to evaluate the potential impact of the defendants’ alleged discrimination, by region.  Using Census surveys and analyzing Post Properties building data, Dr. Lapkoff estimated that 9.5 percent of households potentially renting units in Post Properties would be expected to contain a person with a vision or ambulatory disability, a rate that is likely to rise in the future.  The matter is still pending.

United States of America v. Life Generations Healthcare, LLC, 2013-2014.  This was an action arising under the nondiscrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC).  Dr. Gobalet was retained by OSC to provide statistical analyses comparing the Respondent’s history of documentation of native-born and foreign-born workers.  She both supplied reports and testified at trial.  In her decision, the Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas wrote, “Dr. Gobalet’s testimony was both powerful and persuasive as to the statistical significance of the disparities reflected in her reports.”

United States of America v. Donald T. Sterling et al., 2006-2009.  The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department in August 2006, alleged that the defendants, Donald T. Sterling, his wife Rochelle Sterling, and the Sterling Family Trust, engaged in discriminatory rental practices on the basis of race, national origin, and familial status (having children under 18) at various apartment buildings that they own and manage in Los Angeles.  Among other things, the suit alleged that the defendants discriminated against non-Korean tenants and prospective tenants at buildings the defendants owned in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.  We were hired by Plaintiff to investigate these claims.  We had access to all tenant records in the Koreatown buildings.  Using both time series and cross sectional analyses of the tenant records, as well as an analysis of Census data, we found a disproportionate decline in the number of Hispanic and African American renters.  Sterling paid the largest monetary payment ever obtained by the Justice Department, at the time, in the settlement of a case alleging housing discrimination in the rental of apartments.

NAACP, et al., v. Maricopa County, et al., 2005.  Plaintiffs sued the Maricopa County (Arizona) Board of Supervisors for granting planning permission for a landfill site near Mobile, a traditionally African American community.  The plaintiffs argued that a series of racially discriminatory zoning actions violated the civil rights of Mobile’s residents and landowners.  We performed GIS analyses of the geographical distribution of the area’s sparse population, focusing on Census blocks, rather than larger Census tracts.  We found that the proposed landfill site was distant from African American population concentrations.  The case was dropped after the property was sold to parties that planned other uses for the land.

Thompson v. HUD, 2002-2004.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Baltimore were sued by the ACLU over the siting of public housing.  We were hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Baltimore’s neighborhoods at the time public housing was built, and used Census data to reconstruct Baltimore’s neighborhoods from 1940 to the present.  Our analysis showed that in many cases, the neighborhood ethnic mix had changed after public housing was sited.  We also reviewed the various changes in HUD policies regarding the delivery of public housing, from large housing developments, to Section 8 vouchers and projects, then to smaller developments and scattered sites.  In this high profile case, Dr. Lapkoff’s objective report was the only expert report to be used in closing arguments by both defendants and plaintiffs.  The judge's finding cited Dr. Lapkoff's testimony frequently and more often than that of any other expert witness in the case.

Project Sentinel v. Herman Christensen, Jr., 1994-95. Project Sentinel, a nonprofit corporation, sued an apartment owner for discriminating against children under its occupancy standards. Drs. Lapkoff and Gobalet provided demographic analysis in support of the respondent’s case. We analyzed unpublished Census data on residential patterns of children. The case was settled out of court.

People of the State of California v. Herman Lucien Lemell, Jr., and Tammy Garvin, 1992. Dr. Gobalet was engaged by the Santa Clara County, California, Public Defender to provide various analyses of the ethnic representativeness of County grand juries between 1986 and 1991. She wrote a report, produced exhibits, and testified on a motion to dismiss murder charges on the grounds that the indictment was returned by a Grand Jury panel alleged to have been selected using methods not likely to result in an ethnically and racially representative panel.

Diaz v. San Jose Unified School District, 1985-1996. Dr. Lapkoff provided analyses for school district attorneys to determine what enrollments (by ethnicity) would be with and without the court-ordered desegregation plan. She also analyzed the impact of the plan on enrollments, including “white flight” that resulted from the plan.

Michelle Porter, et al., v. Davis Realty Company, et al., 1983. In this fair housing case, Michelle Porter (an African American) sued the Davis Realty Company for housing discrimination. Shelley Lapkoff, then in graduate school, provided expert testimony for the plaintiff that indicated that the real estate agent had directed Ms. Porter to African-American neighborhoods. Plaintiff was awarded the highest fee ever received up to that time for housing discrimination.

Political Redistricting, Voting Rights Act, and related cases

Valladolid v. San Diego County, 2002-03.  Dr. Gobalet served as an expert for San Diego County Counsel (California) in a political redistricting case involving alleged Brown Act violations during the drawing of county Board of Supervisors election districts. She was declared an expert on political redistricting software and the political redistricting process. The court found for the County.

Authored Preclearance Submissions (under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act) to the U.S. Department of Justice, 2001-2003 and 2011-2012.  Lapkoff & Gobalet provided demographic support for the post-Census 2000 round of political redistricting and authored preclearance submissions for the following jurisdictions: Hartnell Community College District, Monterey County Board of Education, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Salinas City School District, and Salinas Union High School District. All projects were precleared. In addition, LGDR provided demographic support for the preclearance documents of City of Salinas and Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Both jurisdictions were precleared. 

For the post-Census 2010 round of political redistricting, Lapkoff & Gobalet provided demographic support for and authored preclearance submissions for the following jurisdictions: Alisal Union School District, City of Salinas, Hartnell Community College District, Monterey County Board of Education, Monterey Peninsula Community College District, and Salinas Union High School District. All projects were precleared.

United States of America v. Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, 2000-2002.  Dr. Gobalet helped this Southern California defendant and its attorneys defend against claims of vote dilution under section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act in the post-1990 Census round of political redistricting. She assisted in the drawing of new director division boundaries after Census 2000. The court ultimately approved the new boundaries.

Lopez, et al., v. Monterey County, et al., 2000.  Assisted the California State Attorney General in the successful effort to win preclearance for numerous justice and municipal court consolidations and expansions in Monterey County, California, over a period of nearly 20 years. Dr. Gobalet used Geographic Information Systems software to analyze historical Census data and geography and estimate the Voting Rights Act implications of each court configuration.

Alonzo Gonzalez, et al., v. Monterey County, California, 1992.  U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors was sued over its 1991 plan to adjust election district boundaries. Lapkoff & Gobalet had provided demographic technical support during the redistricting process. When the Board was sued, LGDR provided reports, exhibits, and research support to the County’s attorneys. Dr. Lapkoff provided testimony on the process and plans considered by the Board.

Developer Fee Justifications

Braddock & Logan Group, et al., v. Mount Diablo Unified School District, et al., 1994-95.  LGDR was engaged by the school district (MDUSD) and its counsel to support the district’s developer fee for a large housing development. Dr. Lapkoff provided technical demographic analysis and strategic planning assistance. Dr. Gobalet analyzed the geographical distribution of MDUSD students and forecasted the future student population of a geographically isolated part of the district to be affected by the construction. Dr. Gobalet was deposed. The client was satisfied with the settlement.

Ridgeview Builders, Inc., v. Pittsburg Unified School District, 1991.  Ridgeview Builders sued the Pittsburg Unified School over imposition of fees on residential development. Dr. Lapkoff was an expert witness for the school district. Her report discussed the development’s impact on school enrollments and analyzed the school district's report that justified the fees when they were imposed. The court upheld the district's imposition of fees.

Pleasanton Unified School District, City of Pleasanton, and local developers, 1990-1992.  Dr. Lapkoff worked with a team—the school district, the city, and local developers—in Pleasanton, California, to devise a model developer fee agreement that would fully fund future new schools needed from new development. The work precluded litigation between the school district and developers, and was used as a model in other areas.

Mission Peaks v. Fremont Unified School District, 1990.  Dr. Lapkoff was hired by Mission Peaks to analyze developer fee justification report. Case settled out of court.

Shappell Industries, Inc., v. Milpitas Unified School District, 1989-1990.  Shappell Industries sued the school district over imposition of developer fees. Dr. Lapkoff provided an expert declaration discussing flaws in the District’s fee justification. Shappell Industries won in trial court; however, the decision was overturned in appellate court, which found that Dr. Lapkoff's expert declaration was inadmissible due to timing

School District Reorganization

Two Reorganization Proposals for Grant Union Joint High School District  (GJUHSD), 2006-2007. GJUHSD opposed a reorganization proposal by several elementary feeder districts, which wanted to leave the high school district.  Our analysis, which was  submitted to the California State Board of Education, showed that the proposals would reduce racial/ethnic diversity in the school districts.  The State Board of Education denied the proposal.  A second proposal to unify most of the feeder districts and the high school district was considered later.  Our analysis, again submitted to the State Board of Education, showed that no adverse effect on racial/ethnic diversity would result from the unification.  The State Board approved the unification proposal.

Other School Matters

Redwood Christian School v. Alameda County, California, 2006-2007.  The County of Alameda denied a conditional use permit submitted by Redwood Christian School, which wanted to build a new facility.  The School’s enrollments declined.  When the application was denied, the School sued the County for damages, arguing that its enrollment decline would not have occurred if the building permit had been granted.  We provided expert testimony that the decline was not associated with denial of the building permit.  The court found for the County.



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