Peelman looks to appeal ruling

City prosecutor studies possibility of challenging decision in Benito Acosta case, which cost about $32,000 for taxpayers.

October 25, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

Immigration activist Benito Acosta fought city hall and won when an Orange Court Superior Court judge dismissed charges earlier this month of disrupting a January 2006 Costa Mesa City Council meeting — but there could be another round to this battle. The city has until Oct. 31 to appeal the case to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court.

But whether that happens is not known yet.

“We just got the transcripts and are looking to determine if an appeal is an option,” said Dan Peelman, who prosecuted the case for the city. “A determination has not been made yet.”

Judge Kelly MacEachern dismissed the case Oct. 1 after learning Peelman had not been sworn in as a public prosecutor before filing the misdemeanor charges.


Under the law, Acosta can’t be tried again on the same charges. If appealed, a panel of three judges would decide if the case can be tried again legally.

The Appellate Department denied a motion from Peelman to appeal earlier this month because he failed to provide an adequate record. The court considered the motion because the case had been dismissed, according to court records.

Prosecuting the criminal case against Acosta cost Costa Mesa taxpayers about $32,000 as of Oct. 10, according to the city attorney’s office.

It’s not known how much more the city has spent on the case since then.

Several efforts to reach City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow to obtain a more current tally of costs were unsuccessful Thursday.

A civil case against the city that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on Acosta’s behalf is pending.

The city filed two misdemeanor charges against Acosta, who goes by the name Coyotl Tezcatlipoca, alleging he disrupted a City Council meeting when he spoke against a plan to have city police enforce immigration laws.

Council members Eric Bever and Katrina Foley declined comment on the case Thursday.

BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at

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