Judge Patrick Marlette had scheduled the minimum wage hearing in Sacramento Superior Court for Nov. 29. The two sides were supposed to present evidence about whether the controller has the computer capacity to pay state employees minimum wage during a budget impasse.
The delay injects new uncertainty into the legal battle between the lame duck Schwarzenegger administration and Controller John Chiang. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office in January, and it's difficult to envision a lower court decision in the minimum wage litigation before that.
And even in the unlikely event that happens, the matter would drag well past January -- and into Gov.-elect Jerry Brown's term -- if the losing side appealed a December ruling.
Chiang has twice refused to withhold state worker pay, contending that the state's payroll technology and state payroll procedures prohibit it. Schwarzenegger has said the controller is defying established case law and cannot assume failure.
According to this court document, both sides agreed to put off the hearing:
After some discussion with all counsel, it was agreed that the November 29, 2010. Evidentiary Hearing would be vacated. The Court ordered that counsel meet and confer regarding trial dates and a briefing and discovery schedule.
We've asked the controller and the Department of Personnel Administration to explain what happened and whether this means Schwarzenegger is handing the issue off to Brown. We'll let you know what we hear.