A California judge rejected yesterday the city of Oakland's bid to seize the Raiders' football team under the laws of eminent domain and dissolved an injunction ordering the team to return from Los Angeles to Oakland for the 1983 season.
The decision represents a major victory for the Raiders and the team's managing partner, Al Davis, in what has become a protracted struggle in both federal and state courts and on Capitol Hill. The issue is whether the Raiders should be permitted to leave Oakland for Los Angeles.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Nat Agliano rejected Oakland's bid "because there is no reasonable probability that the plaintiff (Oakland) will devote the property to a public use within seven years." More than a year ago, the California Supreme Court ruled that Oakland could attempt to take the Raiders by eminent domain, but it said the city must show it had a "valid public use" for doing so.
Calls to Davis were referred to his executive assistant, Al LoCasale, who issued a statement for Davis calling the decision "a great day for America."
Judge Agliano gave Oakland 10 days in which to appeal and a spokesman for the city said the City Council would meet in executive session Monday to consider an appeal.
Judge Agliano's decision followed 26 days of testimony in which witnesses testified the Raiders were vital to Oakland's recreational and economic well-being. But lawyers for the Raiders argued that a decision in favor of Oakland could set a precedent in which any city could use the eminent domain laws to seize a business that threatened to leave.
The ruling marked the second time a trial court has decided in favor of the Raiders. In May 1982 a federal jury in Los Angeles held that the National Football League had violated antitrust laws in attempting to block the move. Subsequently it awarded damages totaling $49.2 million to the Raiders and the Los Angeles Coliseum. An appeal decision is pending.
Also pending is legislation on Capitol Hill that would force the Raiders to return to Oakland.