In an important decision for the California Table Grape Commission, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled its recent opinion concerning commission advertising dollars will be stayed while the commission appeals to the United States Supreme Court.

“A stay such as this is not automatic,” said Kendall Manock, attorney for the commission. “A stay is only granted if there is a reasonable probability we will succeed in our appeal.”

The ruling, by the same three judge panel that issued the court's original decision, stays its effect while a hearing is sought before the nation's highest court. The Ninth Circuit's decision concerns the constitutionality of commission advertising dollars and does not involve the constitutionality of the commission as a whole. The commission's assessments and all programs remain in place.

The earlier Ninth Circuit decision overturned a district court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the commission's advertising program and dismissed the case against the commission. After the Ninth Circuit overturned the District Court's decision, the commission asked for a stay pending an appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.

‘Record needs to be corrected’

“The Ninth Circuit's decision is based on significant errors in fact and law,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the commission. “As we've said before, the record needs to be corrected and the industry will look to the Supreme Court to do so.”

Should the Supreme Court decline to review the Ninth Circuit's decision, the case will be returned to District Court to litigate the remainder of the issues. “This case has been in the courts since 1996 and there still hasn't been a trial,” said Nave. The original decision from the District Court dismissed the complaint against the commission prior to trial. “This is a long legal process,” Nave said. “In the end, we are confident that the constitutionality of everything the commission does will be upheld.”