Gawker's Anti-SLAPP Victory Could Be Good For The Web - But Judge Refuses To Publish The Ruling

from the step-up,-california dept

A few months ago, Eric Goldman wrote about a good ruling by a California court to knock out a bogus defamation claim against blog site Gawker. There were a few interesting elements to the ruling, including that it used California's anti-SLAPP law, and that it was willing to look at the context of the use of certain words like "scam." But, most importantly, it noted the fact that the Gawker piece included numerous links/citations to sources, which meant that anyone could dig deeper to understand the details themselves.

The problem with the ruling is that, as good as it was, the court decided to issue it as an "unpublished" ruling, meaning that it has limited use as a precedent elsewhere. Goldman then sought to have the court revisit that decision and, instead, to fully publish the decision. Unfortunately, in a one line ruling, the court has now rejected that request (pdf):
The request for an order directing publication of the opinion in the above-entitled appeal is denied.
That's it. End of story. No explanation. No publication. That's really kind of ridiculous. What is the court afraid of? It made the ruling. Why not stand behind it, and make it easier for similar bogus cases to be quickly shot down by the courts?


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 3:29am

    What is the court afraid of?

    What is the court afraid of?


    “No state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    A court following precedent proclaims the idea that cases of equal circumstances shall be ruled by equal law. That the status of the parties —rich, poor, noble, peasant— shall be subordinate to the facts of justice.

    That California court may not like that idea.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 4:53am

    And they say ignorance of the law is no excuse - lol

     

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    Applesauce, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:45am

    What does it mean to 'Publish'

    Can some lawyer on Techdirt enlighten the rest of us?

    What does is mean for a ruling to be "Published"? And aren't ALL rulings "Published"? If not, why not? What's the theory?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 5:59am

      Re: What does it mean to 'Publish'

      California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California: Opinions

      Case opinions of the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are available on this website as follows:

      Published Opinions

      Published Opinions of the appellate courts are opinions certified for publication or ordered published and may be cited or relied on by courts and parties.

       . . . 

      Unpublished Opinions

      Unpublished Opinions of the California Courts of Appeal are opinions not certified for inclusion in the Official Reports that are not generally citable as precedent.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:15am

        Re: Re: What does it mean to 'Publish'

        What this means is we don't want to hurt our buddies chances of making a buck by taking away avenues of suit.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: What does it mean to 'Publish'

        So why go unpublished? Did the judge crib a ruling and is a afraid of a DMCA take down notice?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: What does it mean to 'Publish'

          So why go unpublished?


          The three judge panel of the Court of Appeals, in their August 31, 2012 denial memorandum, stated that their “August 10, 2012 opinion [did] not meet the standard for publication as set forth in rule 8.1105(c) of the California Rules of Court.”

          You may compare Rule 8.1105(c) with the reasons which Mr Goldman supplied in his request.

          As Mr Masnick points out above, the California Supreme Court, en banc, did not provide its reasons for denial.

           

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    Shon Gale (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:37am

    Keep paying those ever mounting filing fees. Got to pay those Judges big salaries.

     

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    Forest_GS (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 6:54am

    What abotu Gawker?

    Can Gawker themselves publish the data resulting in the ruling? And could that be cited instead?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 8:11am

      Re: What abotu Gawker?

      Can Gawker themselves publish...


      I don't usually get finicky about “can” vs “may”...

      But in this particular case, why don't you ask Gawker what they can or can't do? I don't know what their capabilities are.

      Eric Goldman's Technology & Marketing Law blog has a link to the California Court of Appeal's opinion in Redmond v Gawker Media. And Eric Goldman's Techdirt post (very first link above!) contains an embedded Docstoc copy of the opinion.

      So maybe you tell me? Can Gawker themselves publish?

       

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    Michael Barclay (profile), Nov 9th, 2012 @ 9:33am

    Sadly, this stuff happens

    As someone who helped Eric prepare his request for publication, I have the following comments. The California Courts of Appeal are the mid-level courts in California, between the trial court and the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court publishes all of its opinions, the Courts of Appeal don't. The Courts of Appeal hear lots of appeals that don't present new issues of law and that are routine, so many if not most of their decisions are unpublished. (Except for death penalty cases, there is no right to appeal to the Supreme Court so it only takes important issues, and it publishes everything.)

    However, Redmond v. Gawker wasn't a routine appeal, and it did discuss new issues of law. So the opinion should have been published, and I suggested to Eric that he request publication. Why was the request unsuccessful then? I think the Justices believed that Gawker should win, so they said so, but they didn't want to stick their neck out with a published opinion that would establish precedent. Sometimes those cases happen, and we unfortunately get decisions that are worthy of being published, but aren't.

     

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