L.A. Mayor Won't Have to Testify in Urban Garden Case

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city officials won't have to testify in a trial challenging the city's sale of a 14-acre garden that was reclaimed by the landowner and bulldozed last week amid protests.

The plaintiffs had subpoenaed Villaraigosa and nearly a dozen members of the city council, but Superior Court Judge Helen I. Bendix said she would have to limit the type of questions the urban farmers' lawyers could ask.

Attorneys from the two sides agreed Friday not to call the officials to testify.

The lawsuit demands that the city get back the land and give back more than $5 million it accepted from previous owner Ralph Horowitz.

Horowitz was scheduled to testify Monday.

The garden, in an industrial, inner-city area, had been tended for years mainly by poor Hispanic immigrants who grew fruits and vegetables.

In May, a judge agreed to evict the gardeners, leading to demonstrations, tree-sitting protests by activists and celebrities such as actress Daryl Hannah, and dozens of arrests.

Bulldozers began uprooting the garden plots July 5.