Federal Judge Discloses Association with “Supergraphics” Company

The LA Weekly was taking a peek at court papers when we came across an interesting tidbit by a federal district judge who issued a preliminary injunction in June barring the city of Los Angeles from enforcing its sign ordinance against those huge, tacky, building-sized ads now slathering much of LA.

You may hate them but the judge ruled that Philadelphia based “supergraphics” company World Wide Rush could ignore the city ban, at least for now, because the city itself is putting up advertising all over town and it can’t have it both ways.

Judge Audrey Collins – in court papers filed on May 8 - seemed a tad miffed that World Wide Rush attorney Rex Heinke didn’t disclose his affiliation with the “supergraphics” company at a law conference the two attended on May 2 and 3.

Collins wrote that she found out about the lawyer’s association with World Wide Rush on May 5 when the “supergraphics” company filed a motion seeking a temporary preliminary injunction against the city, and a notice that Heinke, who is an attorney for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, was joining the “supergraphics” legal team.

The possible cozying up by Heinke toward a judge he was seeking a favorable ruling from occurred over the May 2 weekend at a legal conference. In her court filing, Collins said that she was unaware at that time that Heinke would “be brought into this case to represent World Wide Rush and would be signing the preliminary injunction motion as World Wide Rush counsel.”

Collins disclosed that she sat at a table with Heinke and other judges and lawyers at a conference dinner on May 2. “[Heinke] did not disclose that he and his firm would begin representing plaintiff’s come Monday.”

Collins divulged that she had a “non-conference” lunch with a couple of judges and Heinke the following day. “[Heinke] was originally supposed to accompany only one district judge and her spouse for lunch, but my spouse and I joined their group.”

“Again, Mr. Heinke did not disclose his imminent association in this case,” she wrote. “Had I been informed that Mr. Heinke and his firm would be representing World Wide Rush here, I obviously would not have sat next to him at the conference dinner, nor would I have joined the other judges and him for lunch.”

Collins argued that her “impartiality” was not affected. “The need for this order was entirely avoidable and I regret having to issue it,” she wrote.

World Wide Rush should be thankful that Collins is so forgiving. In early June, she ruled in favor of Heinke and the “supergraphics” company. In Round Two, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s office will try to explain why City Hall should be able to ban the obnoxious building-sized ads after the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa opened the door to it, setting precedent by allowing certain hand-picked companies to slather the city with advertising.


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