December 5, 2005
For Immediate Release
Deborah Mott, 310-428-3608
FRIENDS OF THE PEACOCK Celebrates Victory!
Appellate Justices Rule, Peafowl to Remain!
Palos Verdes Estates, CA - After 2 years of court battling, on December 2, the LA Court of Appeals issued their written disposition in ‘Butler v. City of PVE,’ a.k.a, ‘the peacock trial’, reversing in full the lower court’s decision to force the City to remove all peafowl from public property and to cease implementation of their 20-year Peafowl Management Program.
“The entire matter seems to have rested on thetestimony of one expert witness for the plaintiffs, Dr. Francine Bradley, whotestified that the peafowl in our City were somehow domesticated,” statesDebbie Mott, Friends’ President. “We knew from the beginning this was absurd,and the Appeals Court agrees. Dr. Bradley is a U.C. Davis poultry scientist,paid by the plaintiffs to testify that ‘once domesticated, always domesticated.’ Thankfully, the Appellate Justices saw through the smoke and mirrors, and ‘got’the entire issue immediately.”
In a 13-page written opinion, the Appeals Courtconcluded that the trial court erred as a matter of law by ignoring both theelected bodies that govern Palos Verdes Estates: the elected city officials,and the elected board of the Homes Association. The Court of Appeals alsooverruled the trial court’s further error in wrongly relying on the experttestimony of Dr. Bradley when interpreting the deed restrictions. Instead of applyingthe “ordinary and popular sense” of the deed restriction wording, the trialcourt incorrectly relied upon the “expert testimony” of Dr. Bradley. The AppealsCourt disagreed with Bradley’s testimony that the PVE peafowl weredomesticated. The Appeals Court stated, “To conclude that the City is keepingpeafowl in violation of the deed restrictions defies common sense.” They alsofound that the trial court erred in ignoring the Homes Association’s inherent powerand authority to interpret any and all of the deed restrictions, as clarified withResolution 151.
“It appears that our efforts over the past 2 years have absolutely been worth it,” states Mott. “It is comforting to know thatjustice has been served by the Appellate Court expressly finding that the Cityhas applied the correct approach in managing a sometimes controversial matterof the peafowl population. I want to thank our several hundred members andother residents of our community who joined together in supporting thecontinued tradition of peafowl in our city. I’d like also to thank our cityofficials who unanimously supported and fought for the continued presence ofour peafowl.”
Friends of the Peacock plans to continue its missionof preserving and protecting the wild peafowl through education and communityoutreach. "We are thrilled that the Appellate Court ruled in our favor,however, our job is not done", states Michael Forte, Friends'Secretary/Treasurer. "Friends of the Peacock must now undertake the taskof peafowl educator. Only through education of our residents will we be able toprevent future peafowl lawsuits." The overwhelming majority of residentswithin the two designated flock areas love the birds, and those outside theflock areas appreciate having the option of requesting them to be removed ifthey become a nuisance. The city’s management program works for all residentsof the city. The Friends would like to see the city take proactive measures toensure its implementation on a permanent and consistent basis for the future.
Friends of the Peacock recently held their 2ndAnnual Meeting and Social at Malaga Cove Library, with near perfect timingfollowing the tentative decision by LA Court of Appeals that reversed the lowercourt’s ruling against the City and its historic wild peafowl. PVE MayorDwight Abbott addressed the membership, as did Police Captain Mark Velez. L-to-r, front row: Friends’ counsel Joan Cochran, Debbie Mott, President, andMarilyn Litvak, newly elected VP. Back row: Mayor Dwight Abbott, DirectorJerry McAlevey, Secretary/Treasurer Michael Forte, Director Ward Proudfoot,Captain Mark Velez.