Thursday, March 06, 2008

Coulda shoulda woulda

The Friends of the Barnes filed their response to the Barnes's preliminary objections last week, and I've had a chance to take a quick look at the papers. The basic argument seems to be that "two significant developments have occurred" since the court's 2004 ruling approving the move -- those developments being the $50 million sale-leaseback offer from Montgomery County and the zoning change that would allow more visitors to come. The problem is it's a little hard to see those as "new facts," rather than things that could have been in place at the time of the initial ruling but, for whatever reasons, weren't. As Harvard law professor Bruce Mann has said, "There's no part of the judicial system that permits do-overs years after an issue has been adjudicated just because someone steps up and says, 'Hey, I have an idea.'"

I'm also not convinced they've solved their standing problem.

The papers do address the mystery of why the "secret" inclusion of $100 million in the 2002 state budget to support the move is supposed to help the Friends' case. (I discussed this issue in the second update to this post.) The idea is supposed to be that "had the existence of this legislation" been brought to the court's attention prior to the 2004 ruling, it "could have ascertained whether" the commitment "was capable of being translated into any level of financial support" for the Barnes in its original location.

The Barnes has 30 days to respond.