One stage of the 2-year-old court battle between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Controller John Chiang ended this morning with a simple two-word post on the 3rd District Court of Appeal's website: "Case complete."
The declaration applies to Gilb v. Chiang, the lawsuit that started way back in the summer of 2008 when Chiang refused to withhold state workers' pay to the federal minimum allowed during that year's budget impasse.
On July 2 the appellate court agreed with a trial court decision that Chiang lacked the authority to refuse compliance with a 2003 Supreme Court decision that says when payroll lacks appropriated funding that the state must withhold employees wages to the federal minimum.
Chiang asked the state Supreme Court to review the appellate court's ruling, or to at least "depublish" the 3rd District Court's decision, which would keep it from being cited in future litigation. Last week, the high court refused both requests, triggering todays formal end to the litigation.
Of course, the minimum wage issue is still in the courts. This time the question is whether the state's archaic computer system and rules for processing payroll. make it impossible for the controller to withhold pay without violating a passel of laws. That case is set for oral argument in Sacramento Superior Court next month.