In a temporary ruling issued Monday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge said he was interested in granting a request from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a brief ruling challenging the group’s by-law interpretation of producer Michael Schumberg’s case.
Judge H. J. Ford III stated that he was persuaded that the court must “refuse to exercise jurisdiction over disputes concerning the rights and duties of members of a private voluntary association.”
The verdict is not final, but it did close the door on Shamberg and his lawyers during a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Division O of the court’s Santa Monica branch.
Schumberg wanted a resolution that the academy’s board of governors would vote on his proposal for an Oscar-related social media program and an annual member survey. Governors said they did not need to vote on member-proposed changes to the bylaws; But they later amended the rules to clarify the process of member proposals. Schumberg’s lawsuit alleges that the post-facto limitation of the member’s proposal violated California law.
In his ruling, Ford said conflicting interpretations show ambiguity in the bylaws – a situation that would require the court to refrain from ruling, lest they be drawn into a “frustrating wetland” of dispute.
While refusing to vote on Schumberg’s proposal, the governors of the academy said they were planning to implement the annual membership meeting and that the group was expanding its social media presence.